First Reading: Acts 7:55-60; Psalm: 97. R. v. 1a. 9a; Second Reading: Rev 22:12-14.16-17.20; Gospel: Jn 17:20-26



John 17:21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as  you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in

The gospel reading of today was the conclusion of the priestly prayer of Jesus for his disciples as he prepares to embrace his passion. This prayer clearly revealed Jesus’ concern and fear for his vulnerable disciples. In this prayer, Jesus was very particular in praying for their unity and that of future believers. He pleaded with his Father to grant his disciples a share of that divine indivisible union he has with him: “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17:21).

This prayer for the unity of the disciples showed that Jesus was very in touch with their fragility and imperfections. Earlier on, they had argued among themselves on who was the greatest. A divisive argument that Jesus had to address (Lk 22:24). Afterwards, James and John started a campaign on their desire to flank Jesus on his throne of glory. An issue that brought about serious resentment between the other ten and James and John (Mk 10:35-41). What about the impetuous Peter who was so quick to make a promise that he would eventually not keep? (Mt 26:33). The height of it was Judas’ imminent betrayal even after Jesus’ efforts to dissuade him from doing so. All of these compounded the fear of Jesus that he had to pray for their unity.

But what do we expect of Jesus who has spent time and energy in training these men but only to see them this divided at the verge of his passion and death? This can be worrisome to anyone.

Reading the gospel of today, we can be tempted to think that Jesus anticipated only a perfectly united church without any division. But from our reflection so far, we can see that what actually inspired Jesus’ prayer for unity in the first place was the fragility of the future leaders of the church. So in his prayer, it was very clear that Jesus already anticipated the division that would hit his future church. He only prayed that despite this division, reconciliation and unity should prevail. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost would help to facilitate this process.

In the early stages of the church’s life, we saw how dissension and discrimination threatened the unity of the church which resulted to the first Council of Jerusalem around AD 50 where the issue on circumcision was discussed and resolved. In the history of the church, several other councils have been convoked to address several faith based issues as they came up. This style of the church in resolving faith based matters through council meetings has been a very positive way the church makes progress in actualising the ultimate goal of the unity of the faith. The Holy Spirit has always been the guide of the church in maintaining this unity which Christ prayed for.

The church of Christ is made up of flawed human persons from diverse cultures who though share one faith. People who are exposed to the influences and principles of the world. So there will always be some disagreements on matters regarding the faith and Christian unity from time to time. However, we have our role to play to see that the faith handed down to us is preserved and that love and unity is fostered.

The family is the nucleus of the church. It is our various families that comprise the Christian faithful that makes up the church. Christ did not only pray for the unity of his apostles but also for the unity of those who will come to believe through their words. We are the church of today who through the teachings of the apostles handed down to us have come to faith. So for the church to be united in propagating this faith, we need to start from our homes.    

Family bonding is something a lot of families overlook. For kids, spending quality time with family helps to promote and maintain positive behaviours. Creating time to interact, travel, visit parks, pray and share Bible verses with our kids is a gradual process of bonding strongly as a family. If this foundation is laid, parents can easily carry their children along in their journey of faith. Taking them along to Church becomes very easy. Whatever a child learns from home s/he takes to the society. We need to bond with our children and nurture their faith from home. This is will help in the unity of our faith and our bonding as a church.

Another reality that threatens the unity of Christians is the diversity of faith beliefs among Christian denominations. It was for this reason that the Vatican II Council expresses the Church’s decision to take up the ecumenical tasks of working for Christian unity. In Pope John Paul II Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint (‘That they may be one’) he highlighted: “Thus it is absolutely clear that ecumenism, the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of appendix which is added to the Church’s traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work and consequently must pervade all that she is and does.”

Ecumenism (the movement promoting Christian unity) has not been an easy goal to achieve. However, the Christian faithful are called to promote it by fostering love and unity in their manner of relating with their fellow Christians from different denominations. As Pope John Paul II highlighted, ecumenism is an integral part of the Church’s mission which every Catholic should uphold. So we should dissuade ourselves from promoting any form of divisive religious propaganda that injures our unity as Christians whether through writing, preaching, or through some form of social media handles. Let love and unity permeate our mentality, beliefs, relationships, and understanding of one another. It is by this way that the world will know that we are Christ’s disciples.


Lord Jesus, may we all be one as you and the Father are one. Amen


  1. Fr Udechukwu Moses Shl

    Nice homily Fr Nwannem…Daalu Rinne.
    Chukwu gozibegi ma mee ka ina eto na amamihe 🙏

  2. Uju Obi, DMMM

    Excellent reflection. Indeed, family is the domestic Church. One may also say that family is equally the domestic love, the domestic peace, the domestic unity and the domestic ecumenism. May God bless His words in our hearts and grant us the grace to become instruments of peace, where there is hatred may we sow love., where there is injury, pardon….(St Francis of Assisi). Daalu dear Fr Val.

  3. Rev Fr Udechukwu Kenechukwu Shl


    Acts 7:55-60/Rev 22:12-14.16-17.20/Jn 17:20-26


    The seventeenth chapter of John is known as “the Priestly Prayer of Jesus”. It is the longest single prayer of Jesus recorded in the scripture. This prayer is divided into three parts:
    a. He prays for his glorification (1-8)
    b. He prays for his Apostles (9-19)
    c. He prays for all believers (20-26)

    The third part of the prayer forms our gospel; where Jesus Christ prays for all believers (present and future). What was it centred on? Jesus did not pray for the prosperity of all believers but for their unity. This shows the importance of unity. He enjoins all Christians to be one as He is one with the Father. Our unity is to be a sign to unbelievers.

    The tool that the devil normally use in fighting Christendom is division. The first division that could have happened in the Church was to be between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. This conflict was settled with the Council of Jerusalem under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Since then the devil has been fighting the Church of Christ bringing about many divisions in the body of Christ. The erection or rising up of new Churches is not a positive growth to Christendom, it is very important we know this.

    It is not only the Church that is under this attack. Divisions can be found in our families, schools, places of work and even in our nation. Presently, we have so many uprising from different parts of our country. A united family will give birth to a united Church and then a united nation. United we stand, but divided we fall.

    One of the primary causes of division is selfishness. Selfishness gives birth to greed for power, weath and fame, etc. We have so many people contesting for the same positions ahead of 2023 elections, is it because of they love us? No, it is because of greed.

    Ephesians 4:1-6 tells us to lead a life worthy of our calling. Be humble, kind, patient, bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you the unity of Spirit through the bond of peace… Psalm 133:1 will also tell us “behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity”.

    Dear brethren, let us join Christ today in praying for unity and working for the realization of it in our families, Church and country Nigeria.

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