Delivered sermon at the Christ the King Parish, Episcopal-Anglican Church, Frankfurt, Germany about John 17:20-26, sometime in the past. Thanks to the Parish Priest, The Revd Edda Wolf, a woman priest.
To be complete is to be in unity with one another, and with Jesus and the Father through love.
“The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (22-23)
The purpose of this unity is for the world to know that Jesus is sent by the Father because of the Father’s love to men as the Father loved Jesus.
How the Father’s love was then exemplified? In John 3:16 we know that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” God’s love initiates – he gave his only Son. And then His son, Jesus, loved everyone who is in need – they are the last, the least and the lost.
Jesus’ expression of love was to die for the people enslaved by the sinfulness of the powers that be – the Roman Empire, the Jewish leaders who collaborated with the Imperial power and the merchants that abuses the meek and the weak, the poor people. For being true to His Father’s will, Jesus being the Word of God become one with His people. Then He and His death has become the Gospel of love that is sourced out of the Father’s love – the Father gave His only Son not only to die upon the cross without a cause but to be killed for what He did to His people – His own people. Jesus the Son of God humbled himself take the form of a man and lived with His own people, in their joys and pains. He ate with them, worked with them as a carpenter son of Joseph.
Now let us take a look around us, around the globe. To have the Bible on our right hand and the newspaper, the radio, the television and multi-media on our left hand and then try to reflect on things and our faith.
On Israel’s aggression upon Palestine. At least 110 Palestinians were killed from 30 March to 15 May 2019 – a number of whom have been members of various Palestinian militant organizations. An independent United Nations commission set the number of known militants killed at 29 out of the 183. In 2018 Israeli security forces killed 290 Palestinians, including 55 minors. Of the casualties, 254 were killed in the Gaza Strip, 34 in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and two within Israel. These incidents are a direct result of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and the top military command, and backed by the judicial system. As long as Israel adheres to this policy, despite its predictable outcomes, the casualties will continue to amass.
In the United States of America and on Ronald Trump’s Immigration and Refugee policy. Accordingly, 436 is the average number of daily immigration arrests under Trump between February 2017 and September 2018, including immigrants with and without criminal records, up from 300 in 2016. Of that 436, an average of 139 arrests were of immigrants without criminal records, up from 47 in 2016. A wall in the border of Mexico is also keeping away and continue to separate the lives of people.
In the Philippines, at least 30,000 people are already killed in the name of war against drugs, most of whom are poor people who are forced to sell drugs to earn for a living and aside from the fact that a number of them are innocents and not in any way involved in drug trade. Thousands of Indigenous peoples in Mindanao or the Lumads have been evacuating to save their lives from imminent danger and death and poor farmers in the country-sides were driven away from their farms and being massacred due to military and police operations to give way to foreign owned mining operations and big plantations. Hundreds of human rights advocates and activists including church people are now facing trumped-up cases for defending the poor and the oppressed. Some have been vilified to be rebels and then are killed.
And then again, how do we know the love of Jesus? In the First Letter of John it says, “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1-John 3:16). The norms or the standard of Jesus’ love is to die for the sake of others. It is when you decide to prioritize the interest of the other people who are in need, deprived of the things they need to live and of the richness of life more than that of ours – the one that is exemplified in the offering of the poor widow in Luke 21:1-4, “He (Jesus) looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”
How will we be united through the love of God? It is by becoming ourselves the neighbor of those in need and make them our fellow instead of making them the others. Oftentimes we treat our fellowmen (women and children) to be the other men, women and children. That is why we can never love them as ourselves because they are the others and they are not us or one of us.
But who are those whom we treat to be the others rather than our fellow? Easily, they are the other races and nationalities, other faiths beliefs and cultures. Maybe we only love our fellow countrymen – Americans for Americans, Africans for Africans, Filipinos for Filipinos, Germans for Germans and the many other races that we can name for their own races too. Maybe the Christians for Christians, the Moslems for Moslems, the Buddhists for Buddhists and et cetera. But is this the way we follow the command of God to love our neighbors as ourselves? Is it not that Jesus shared to his disciples and to us the beautiful story of the Good Samaritan who helped a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.” (Luke 10:25-37)
Can’t the immigrants be our neighbors and fellows? Can’t the Africans, Palestinians, Mexicans and other races be our neighbors and fellow? Can’t the refugees be our neighbors and fellow too? Can’t the Moslems and other faiths be our neighbors and fellow also? Most of all, the qualifiers for all this is that they are in need. It is when we love that we identify that our fellow and neighbors are those who are the least of the brethren (Matthew 25:31-46). And they are not only those of the other races and nationalities but they can also be those of the same race as ours but are in the lower strata in the society. Our neighbors and fellows are everyone in need. They are those who come to your country, your places, and your door steps. Do not we know why are they coming? They come for help. They come for life. Most of all, they come to give you, to give us the opportunity to become their neighbor, their fellow and for us to live out the love that is of God. Then we can love them the way of the Father’s love that is giving them what is ours and part of being us just as Jesus is of the Father and part of the Father’s own. God the Father, gave Jesus to us who is his own.
When we know that we are one, in unity, with one another, with Jesus and the Father in love then we are truly complete.
May the Lord bless and makes us the neighbors and fellows and not the others. Amen.