“Eternal life is this. To know You the only true God, and Him whom You have sent, Jesus Christ”. (John 17: 3)
Today’s Gospel is a prayer of Jesus to His Heavenly Father, for the apostles, the church and all of us.
God becomes one of us so that we can become one with Him.
Human life, because of the sin of Adam and Eve, has many pains, sorrows, sickness, and death.
God, through Jesus Christ, frees us from this through our faith and unity with God. That is what Jesus is praying about in today’s Gospel.
- Set you sights high – Luke 24: 36-53
- Why do you seek for the living amongst the dead? – Mark 15: 43-16-8
- What did I do to deserve this? – John 9:1-38
Jesus is telling us that in order for us to be with God in heaven we have to be with God on earth. Being with God on earth means glorifying God through our life on earth. That is why we used to hear from old people say, “Everything I do, is for the Glory of God”.
We need to know that all the good works we do on earth, do not make God more famous, or give Him more status. The reason we glorify God is so that more people may experience God’s glory and come to believe in Him.
That is why Jesus performed miracles on earth, and why they still happen today. Miracles lift the faith of people.
There are many people who still do not know God.
Think about it. People, without faith, find it easier to create and follow a god which fits into their own notion of God and religion. One who serves their own pursuits of pleasure, power, pride instead of a God who calls them to holiness in every aspect of their lives.
Our witness of our own faith to others is the key to converting people.
The role of the church and of Christians is not to convert people with very smart arguments but by good example. That is why Jesus prays that we have strength in our faith and witness. As you know missionaries, and all of us are missionaries, must be very strong in this faith, so that unbelievers may be converted.
St Francis told his monks to go to the streets to preach the Gospel, and to use words only when it was necessary. They went around town in prayer.
Today we talk about leading people back to church. The key to this question is faith, prayer, and good example. We need to work out how we can accomplish that.
Let us look at our predecessors in faith. We, who belong to our Eparchy today, are here because of the example of our parents, grandparents, friends, neighbours, and other believers. They glorified God by doing simple things. They would have said, “Glory to Jesus Christ”, “Christ is born”, “Christ is risen”. These expressions were simple and yet powerful signs of faith. Instead of what we hear today “Good day!”
Our predecessors were not theologians. They kept our Ukrainian customs, went to church, said their prayers before meals and before going to bed.
Our church has practised our faith for a 1000 years. The Heavenly Kingdom is filled with martyrs, saints and faithful who have loyally witnessed to the glory of God. We pray that we can also be such witnesses.
- Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM