Friday, May 14, 2010

"We" vs "They"

Seventh Sunday of Easter Year C

“We…” “They …” We often use these words to refer to different groups of people. “We” usually refers to the group which I personally can identify with. I’m a member of this group. This group of mine shares common interest and are like-minded. This group of people are my friends and my loved ones.

“They” is often used to refer to people who do not belong to that special group of ours. These people are outside my group of friends and loved ones. These people are considered different – whether it be a different opinion, a different language, a background or a different religion. Very often the “we” are against “them.” They are not our friends. We distrust them. We don’t like them.

Very often, we tend to think like this. We tend to make distinctions. We tend to see our differences rather than to recognize what is common between us. “Why are we helping the Mandarin or Tamil speaking?” “Why are we taking care of the needs of the migrants?” “We should only take care of our own.”

Today, Jesus reminds us that on this world there are no ‘we’ and ‘they.’ All of us are God’s children. All of us are recipients of the saving grace of Jesus. All of us are called to be that One family of God. There is no room for division and distinction in this one family of God. The poor will not be separated from the rich. The educated will not be separated from the uneducated. People of different languages and different cultures will not be separated and placed in different rooms.

This is the prayer of Jesus during the last supper just before his death. He was concerned not only for his disciples, those that the Heavenly Father had given into his care, but also for the others – the unconverted, those who rejected him and would put him to death, his greatest enemies. And so Jesus prayed: “Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me. May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us as you are in me and I am in you.”

This is the reason why we cannot only be praying for our loved ones and friends. We cannot only be helping people who are close to us. We are also called to pray for the “others” – for our enemies, for people who hurt us, for those speak ill of us, for those who think differently, for those who are of a different skin colour or language. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen did exactly this. As he was being stoned by his enemies, he prayed that God would forgive them their sins.

One day, we will all walk hand in hand into the gates of heaven. We will hear the voice of Jesus inviting us to enter into the new Jerusalem. If we are unable to face our enemies and people whom we dislike now, how can we possibly live with them for eternity after death. In heaven, there can be no division, hatred or unforgiveness. There is only unity and love. While we are still alive in this world, let us begin to work for unity and reconciliation because heaven is only a perfect reflection of the way we have lived here on earth. May our robes be washed clean by the time we stand before Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. May we be one as Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit are one.

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