Easter, 4th Sunday - homily
“The Father and I are one”.
When I look back on my childhood and teenage years, I see that the times that I was happiest and at peace were those times when I was one with my father (and mother). That is, the times when I was obedient to him and doing what I was supposed to be doing. But, when I disagreed with him or was rebellious in some way, that is when I experienced anxiety and unrest. One of those times was when I was in my early teenage years.
My father and older brother had had an argument. Now, our family was a loving family, but, like any family, we had our disagreements. My father and brother had a disagreement to the point where my brother was… kindly asked to leave our home temporarily. A few days later, my brother called me, asking to bring him some food. I said, ‘ok’. Now, we lived in Bethesda, and he was staying at a friend’s home in Silver Spring. I was close to the legal driving age, but not quite there…! I nervously drove the food to my brother, convinced that the man who had been behind me for a large part of the trip was an undercover cop!
That whole experience brought me a lot of anxiety and nervousness. For whatever reason – loyalty to my brother, disagreeing with my father about their argument – I decided to do something stupid and dangerous just to go against my father. It wasn’t until I came back into my father’s good graces again for this time and others that I was at peace. Usually, our relationships with our fathers (and mothers) on earth directly affect our relationship with our Father in heaven.
Jesus says in today’s Gospel that “the Father and I are one”. What an amazing relationship the Son and the Father have. They have infinite love for one another, giving themselves completely to the other for all eternity. How this all happens is a mystery to us, and especially when we try to factor in the Holy Spirit who is the love between the Father and the Son. When Christ says that he is one with the Father, it means that he is united with the Father in mind, heart, and action. His thoughts are one with the Father, and he acts in union with the Father’s Plan. He enjoys the Father’s love completely because he is completely united with Him.
Christ invites us to share in this relationship with the Father. He invites to be one with the Father…to be one with the Father’s love. How do we do this? We come into union with the Father by being one with Christ through the Church. So, each one of us can ask ourselves, ‘am I one with the Father? Am I one with the Father in mind, heart, and action?’
Am I one with the Father in prayer? The first step in being united with someone is communication. We have to talk with and listen to someone in order to be one with him or her. Do I pray to the Father? We do this in the Lord’s Prayer, of course, but also when we come to Mass. The entire Mass is a prayer to the Father, in Christ, and through the Holy Spirit.
Am I one with the Father in worship? God the Father gives us the commandment to “keep holy the Sabbath”. This is played out in the Christian faith with the Eucharist, the Mass. It is for every Sabbath…every Sunday to be here, and to worship. Am I one with the Father on this? And, do I come dressed to worship as he says in 1 Chronicles: ‘Worship the Lord in holy attire”.
Am I one with Father in his moral teachings? Early on in Scripture, the Father says to the first married couple, “be fertile and multiply”. For our married couples, ask yourselves, “are we one with the Father’s Plan to be open to life? Are we open to procreation, to be fertile and multiply? Every time we come together as husband and wife, are we one with the Father in being open to life?”
For me as a priest, am I one with the Father’s Plan to be generous in service? Do I serve generously and promptly? Just this past week, there were two examples where God called me to serve generously and promptly. On Thursday (my day off), a family called me as their father was dying. I got there just in time to anoint him and give him a special blessing before he died. The next day, the 2 year old daughter of parishioners had a serious accident where she lost many of her (baby) teeth. I had a small window of time to be with the parents at Children’s Hospital, to pray with them and offer support. Both families were grateful that a priest was with them. I could have said, ‘no, I’ll do this tomorrow’, but the Father wanted me there right away. He calls parents to be generous as well – changing diapers in the middle of the night, for example. Are we one with His Plan?
If I am a single person who is struggling to find the Father’s Plan, am I one with the Father? Do I trust that He has a plan for me? In general, is each of us one with the Father with his Plan for us? Do we hear his call to holiness, and live for others, or do we live for ourselves?
If any of our answers to these questions is no, can we change them to yes? Of course, and our Father will receive us back immediately. He desires union with us. The prodigal son parable shows us that. Just like when my father welcomed me back when I messed up, so our heavenly father embraces us fully when we return to him. When we are one with him, we are one with happiness and joy. The first reading tells us that: the Apostles, even though they were being persecuted, were filled with joy because they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
The best for us to be one with the Father on earth is through the Son in the Eucharist. We call it “Holy Communion” because we come in union with God and one another. As we receive the Eucharist today, let us understand more deeply and go deeper into union with the Father. When we are one with the Father, we are one with love.