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20 May - Seventh Sunday of Easter; World Communication Sunday

The Spirit and the Bride

The Church is wedded to Christ in the love of the Spirit and looks forward to the final fulfilment of that love in the glory of heaven.

- the Sunday Missal
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He died for you

The body of Abraham Lincoln was lying in state. He had been murdered in Washington, D.C., and his body was being taken back to Springfield, Illinois.

The people were lined up to view the remains. In the line was a poor black woman, carrying her four-year-old son. When they reached the president’s body, the woman lifted her son up in the air, and said, “Honey, take a good long look. That there man, he died for you.”

- Every mother could point to Jesus, and say those self-same words to each of their children

- taken from “150 More Stories for Preachers and Teachers” by Jack McArdle
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Acts of the Apostles 7:55-60

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. “I can see heaven thrown open,” he said, “and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and said aloud, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and with these words he fell asleep.
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Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20

I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: “Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.”

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelation to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” Let everyone who listens answer, “Come.” Then let all who are thirsty come; all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.

The one who guarantees these revelation repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.
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John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

“Holy Father,
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in men and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you love me.
Father,
I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory
you have given me
because you loved me
before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known
that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known,
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them,
and so that I may be in them.

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In the papers yesterday, there was a feature on elitism, which is a belief or attitude that individuals who are considered members of the elite are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously. As Christians, in particular Catholics, we sometimes have an elitist attitude that is, in fact, anti-catholic.

As Christians, we tend to believe that because we are the chosen people of God, we alone will be saved, and no one else. As Catholics, we tend to believe that we are the original church, the one that was founded by Jesus Christ, and hence we are the true church. Neither of these beliefs are really catholic.

This is because the word ‘catholic’ means universal. Jesus died to save all humans, not just the Christians. That is something we must all realise. As Christians, we have been chosen not because we are special, but we are special because we have been chosen. Chosen for what? Chosen to tell the whole world that Jesus died to save all humans, and in order to be saved, a person needs to accept that Jesus died for him or her.

When we have an elitist attitude, we believe that we are superior because we are chosen and saved. Often this elitism drives other people away from the church, away from salvation, and it is our fault because it is our elitist attitude that drives people away. In addition, when we have an elitist attitude, we tend to believe that we are often, if not always, in the right, and that others are in the wrong. Strange thing to think, since the other party is probably thinking the same thing.

So both parties start to argue and debate about religion. When this happens, it is more than likely that tempers flare and love takes a back seat. What becomes important is not the message but the desire to prove the other person wrong and ourselves right, so much so that even if our logic is flawless and our argument sound, we cannot win the battle, because the battle is won by love, not logic and arguments.

Throughout the history of Christianity, we have seen this happen many times. Whenever there is a disagreement, a person breaks away from the church and forms his own little church. A 2001 study puts the number of Protestant denominations in the world at roughly 33,000, with a net increase of 270 to 300 every year. This is far from what Jesus prayed for his people - “May they all be one”.

Yet before we start to point fingers, let us look at ourselves. Have we been a source of unity for Christians or a source of division? Have we, through an elitist attitude, driven others away from the church and from Jesus? Have we prayed for unity in the church? Have we worked towards spreading the good news of Jesus to the rest of the world or have we been happily minding our own business in the knowledge that we are saved?

In the second reading, John tells us that Jesus is coming to bring the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. If Jesus were to bring to you what you deserve, would you be happy because you have worked towards bringing unity to his church, or will you be fearful for being a cause of driving people away from the church?

There is hope yet. Jesus tells us through John: Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean. Washed their robes in what? In the blood of Jesus of course, for his blood washes away our sins. Is your robe clean? It is not our own blood that saves us; it is the blood of Christ.
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Prayer:
Dear Jesus, today we offer you our robes. We ask that they may be washed in your blood and that we may be cleansed of sin, especially the sin of causing division in the church through our divisive behaviours. Help us to realise that we are all guilty of this in some way or other, and to admit that we were wrong, and am in need of your forgiveness, for it is your blood, not ours, that cleanses us and prepares us for heaven. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who love as Christ loves.

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