In the minor seminary I was thrown out of the choir by one Friday Dike, the choir master. When my school guardian, Patrick Opurum (OP), confronted him he told him that I was creating another choir out of the choir as I was singing out of tune. After many years as I developed the aptitude of singing, I realized that the choir master was right, but he could have helped me to align my voice with the rest in order to have one choir. The beauty of a choir is the ability to have harmony in the midst of many voices; this harmony creates symphony, it creates unity and ultimately oneness!
There is power in one! One can be said to be the maternal home of all numbers; that is why it is aptly said that a journey of millions of miles starts with one step. One is a phenomenon we cannot possibly run away from; there must be one before any other. One serves as a dependable representation for a variety of things. One has strong relevance in almost everything in life; hence there is power in ONE. Have you imagined why soldier ants are so powerful? It is simply because of the unity they maintain among themselves that constitute them as ONE POWERFUL FRONT. The strongest army is not usually the largest in number but the most skilful in harnessing arsenals into ONE formidable force. If we relate this to a choir we can say that a good choir is a representation of the POWER OF ONE, just like a peaceful family, an ideal community, a functional government!
In the gospel reading today (John 17:20-26) our Lord Jesus Christ makes a strong empathetic supplication to the father in favour of the apostles and by extension all you will be privileged to be included in the sheepfold. The prayer had far reaching spread covering then and now. The prayer was not baseless like some of the prayers we say. It was based on the eternal unity in the Godhead that allows diversity while maintaining essential ONENESS. In our prayers also we must always make reference to higher models.
Being one and remaining one had been the greatest problem in our human society started from various families, through various groups, communities, tribes, nations and the world generally. Families that were once united are today in shambles with ugly fragmentations leading to antagonism, apathy, mistrust and even belligerent onslaughts. Many communities that should be mutually linked are dispersed on account of the erosion of the walls of unity. Many nations are going through excruciating internal turmoil as a result of the collapse of unity.
This is not to say that in religious circles the situation is even better. If the truth must be told, most uprisings in the world have strong religious overtures. Our Lord Jesus Christ was aware of the fact that the Christian faith would not have an easy ride hence said:
Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.(Matt.10:34-36).
This statement is a sort of fore-warning information showing that the acceptance of the faith would not be an easy thing as there will be internal and external oppositions. We can now understand why our Lord took time to pray for unity among those who will be gathered together in his name.
Unity or if you like oneness had been a challenging issue in Christendom. I grew up to be taught that I am a Catholic and that I have nothing to do with people from other denominations. I had to pray like a Catholic, play like a Catholic, sing like a Catholic, dance like a Catholic, have Catholic friends, and attend Catholic schools. This time table while being protective does not at the same time make room for interaction with people from other Christian denominations at least on the platform of our common profession as Christians which was the prayerful wish of Jesus Christ that we all be one in spite of our differences. In most communities Christians of various denominations are at war among themselves and these warring factions had been taken to various levels in the community life to the extent that non-Christians are shocked and disappointed.
Among various societies, organisations and sodalities in the Church the situation is not even better. Often we notice unhealthy competition among these groups to see who gets more members, who gives more money to the Church and who has more support from the priest. Often some groups see the others as unspiritual and worldly while the latter view the former as merely assuming to be righteous. This may not be completely wrong as the only thing spiritual about some organisations in the Church is their opening and closing prayers other things would revolve around levies, scouting for membership and eating food. For some others their meetings are all about how to avoid contacts with the other groups and how to create an image of distinction even when there are rots within. In all, walls are erected and unity is unfathomed.
In the face of all these instances of divisions within and outside the Christian Faith one wonders how the priestly prayer and wish of Jesus Christ have resonated with us. There is need for each and every one of us to begin from ourselves. It has been discovered that most of the problems we encounter in our relationships have roots in our self-concept which is the way we see ourselves: our beliefs, values, and attitudes. For unity and oneness to be achieved we need to drop some things and pick up others. There is need for a positive change in the way we do our things especially as it relates to others. We cannot be doing the same thing the same way over and over again and get a different result, which is pure insanity.
Today we have a duty to incarnate the priestly prayer of Jesus Christ in our lives and contexts. This oneness will be productive in opening lots of doors for us especially as we are praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit cannot dwell in anarchy and division. He is the Spirit of peace and He would only abide on peaceful grounds. May the love of God above all lead us to that unity which Jesus Christ earnestly prayed for today and MAY WE ALL BE ONE!
Happy Sunday and a blissful week ahead!