Msgr. Kriekenbeeck delivers a homily in Sharm El Sheikh, Sinai Peninsula during the TLIG Pilgrimage in Egypt, 2002
The first reading tells us about the Plan of God. And the Plan is that we are one body and one spirit; we have one hope given to you by your call. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, Who is over all, and works through all, and is in all. That is the beautiful plan of God for all his children.
But if we look in the world today, it is not the case, because man has put obstacles in the way of unity. Cultural, political, economical and even religious, and this springs from the proud arrogance in the human heart. And this is the reason why Paul says: I plead with you to see the light of humility, witness and patience, bearing with one another in love, so that we can preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin.
We reflect on that for a moment. How unity and this work of gathering together is the Work of the Spirit. It is the Spirit that has called us together and it is the Spirit that has made this possible, even the Mass today. But we must preserve this, and Paul says it is peace that holds it together, because peace is the binding force. Therefore, we must make every effort to be at peace with one another, at peace with each other, peace with each culture, so that the announcement of the angel: “Peace to men of good will”, be achieved by our gathering together.
The truth of the matter is that for one reason or another: historical, political, cultural, religious, made up by man’s own pride, we have put barriers to this beautiful plan of God. But this is not only a plan, this is a reality. This is a reality, because Jesus tells us that He is the Vine, and that we are the branches.
So those of us who are baptized and who believe in Christ and who see the True Life in Him – no matter how we are separated- are really together, and are united in this one True Life with God.
I was reflecting on our trip across Sinai and the desert and the mountains, and how God led His people to strip them of everything, so that they would depend only on Him. To become the people of God, one mind, one heart, one soul, one spirit, if there are no obstacles on the way. And so our trip is a revelation of the demand of the Spirit of the dying to these various obstacles, so that we can attain unity.
In John, 17, Jesus prays to the Father: “I pray that they may be one, as We are”. The Trinity is our model of unity. This would be normally impossible. But He adds: “that they may be one in Us; I in Thee and You in Me”, so that by participation in the one life in God, we can be like the Trinity and relate to one another in the love of the Holy Spirit.
The direction of the Church today is what is given in the Gospel. The Gospel has two parts. Part one is the signs of the times. God speaks through events. Jesus tells His Jewish audience, that as they can read the signs in the sky, they should read the Mesianic times, because it is fulfilled in His Presence, it is accomplished in His Presence. And so He is telling us that the sign of the times today is the call for unity. We must unite or else we will be destroyed. We look at the television set for the weather reports, we read the signs of the weather: God speaks through the course of events, calls for unity at this time. We must unite. We must unite or else, what happened to the old Israel will happen to us. The message to Israel was “shape up, or ship out”. If we don’t shape up, He will ship us out!
The second part of the Gospel is accountability. Accountability. He is saying that we have to take action, because if we do not, and then the judgement comes, we will pay for every idle action, idle word, every penny, every disobedience, every disunity, every faction, every proud arrogance. We will pay for that. And, therefore, the message is: the sign of the times is the call for unity and we must act.
And if we do not act, we are accountable to God. We are grateful to True Life in God, because It does read the signs of the times, It does answer the call for unity and It has taken action. And this is our response. Amen. Praise the Lord!
Our task now is to take this back to our countries. To all 60 countries, and witness to unity in our personal life, in our family, in our community, in our fraternity, so that God will see, so that God will discover, that we live a True Life in God, in our mind, in our heart, and in our actions. Amen.