Homily reflecting on the theme "all things in common" as described in Acts 2: 43-47
It is good to be gathered here on this the final Day of a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is good also to recall and appreciate that we have been united in mind and heart with Christians throughout the world. I am sure that you like, me have been praying in a more specific way for the persecuted Churches in Jerusalem who have given us the theme for the prayer this year.
Their suggestion that our theme for this Week of prayer should be “all things in common” after the example of the first Christian Fellowship in Jerusalem has given me much food for thought.
My first thoughts were questions: Why didn’t it last? Could this ideal work in principle? Could it work in all places? in all cases? Overall, my response is No! This ideal will not work, not in most cases. Why not?Perhaps, because we are not yet ready for it. Yet there is something much deeper here to fathom.The beautiful prayer of Christ at the last supper comes to mind.
May they all be one Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you. 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 loved me. Jn 17:20 – 22
Yes this is God’s design, his plan set out from the beginning of time. It is a plan that is slowly unfolding mysterious, awesome, and demanding our full cooperation. It seems to me that we, that all of us, the whole of humankind are on a journey; a journey into love, into that relationship of love which Christ prayed for.
When we were born into this world, like all mammals, we were totally self absorbed, totally needy, totally dependent on those around us to satisfy our needs. As we grew and our minds developed, we became aware of others as separate from us - loving us, caring for us, maybe - but separate from us. Gradually, we learned others had needs of their own and rights of their own.
Not without struggle and pain, we learned - to a degree - to acknowledge and respect the needs and rights of others. This learning and the response it requires from us is the source of our, and the whole of humanities’ life–long struggle with selfishness and is at the heart of what we call virtue and sin.
I believe that our life is a journey from self-absorption into unselfish love, - into altuism, a true love and respect for others and all that God has made. It is a journey out of self and into love; for most of us, it is a journey to be continued beyond death. The words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit scientist and theologian seem particularly relevant here:
"Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, humankind will have discovered fire."
I believe that this is humankind’s evolutionary journey – a journey we all make from self absorption, through the struggles between true love and self-love, to transcendence into total unity with God? I think that for most of us it is a journey that continues beyond death.
On the universal level this journey began when: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Gen 1. When God spoke those electric words, ‘"Let there be light"; and there was light.’
Scientific discoveries and the wonderful advance in technologies can tell us now so much about the story of our universe. As we now know approximately 14 billion years ago there was a massive flaring forth of light and energy during which all the elements that constitute our universe were formed.
We are becoming more deeply aware of the earth as a living, evolving, creative community and that we humans, share the same origin and substance as every part of our planet. We share a substantial amount of DNA with almost all living things and we share the majority of our DNA with higher mammals such as chimpanzees. On this level we certainly do have all things in common.
Many scientist today agree with the statement of Teilhard De Chardin made in the 1950s that
“The Earth is actually a living being, a colossal biological super system"
Every species, animate or inanimate has its own special role and contribution to make to the balance and wholeness of the total earth community. We humans are the consciousness of the earth community. We are Earth /Universe aware of itself, reflecting on itself, wondering about its origins.
As the thinking, self aware, reflective, decision making species, it would appear that God has entrusted to us responsibility for the ongoing evolution of the world to make decisions in harmony with the Creator’s design for the wholesome ongoing evolution of the planet. An awesome responsibility ; And sadly we do not seem to be doing very well.
Science and technology reveals more and more the awesome majesty of our planet, its beauty and diversity. Our libraries and the internet are full of volumes of information and photographs about different species of birds, of fish of insects, animals, grasses, plants, herbs, mountains, rivers etc.
It is patently obvious that our, God delights in diversity, in variety. He revels in differences and all this beauty, all this diversity - it is our responsibility, it is all ours, we hold it all in trust; we hold it all in common.
Why then do we so fear diversity? Why are we so threatened by difference? Why war? Why the terrible discrimination and persecution across the planet and down the centuries?
When will we learn that greed, the lust for power, the need for control are destructive forces trying to fill a deep inner emptiness? Empty of what? Of love.