Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; John 17:20-26
An Intimate Conversation
Today’s readings speak about God’s protection. In the first reading Paul is being assured by the Lord that he must keep up his courage for further trials. The Psalmist speaks to the safe refuge found in God’s love. And in the Gospel, Jesus prays that his disciples and all believers may stay close to God. The theme that jumps off the page is an intimate conversation about God’s protection. In all three examples God’s protection was made known through an intimate conversation.
It was a great joy to Peter and Mary Pallotti (but no great surprise) when Vincent told them of his desire to become a priest. At the age of sixteen he wanted to join the Capuchins. He told his confessor of his wish, but was dissuaded by him from his choice. The priest considered that Vincent was not strong enough to stand up to the austerity of that order. The boy immediately acquiesced in his confessor's decision, but still retained his ardent desire for the priesthood. With his father's permission, he made a retreat in the Mission House of Monte Citorio. Then he entered the Roman College, beginning the long course of study in preparation for the priesthood.
That We May Be One
“Holy Father, keep in your name those you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. . . . I pray not only for these [the Apostles], but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. . . that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me. . . .I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them." (Verses from John 17:11-26)
Today’s Gospel is from Jesus's farewell address at His last supper with His apostles. The address concludes with what is often referred to as Our Lord's "Priestly Prayer," quoted above.
Note that the Lord is not addressing the apostles here: He is praying to the Father. Thanks to John the Evangelist, we, along with the Apostles, overhear Him pray that we may be one just as He and the Father are one: that each of us and the entire Church may be enfolded into the divine mutuality, intimacy and reciprocity of Trinitarian love.
Acts 20:17-27; John 17:1-11a
St. Paul gave me chills today as he informed his friends that he would never see them again because he was leaving for Jerusalem. He had no clue what would happen except that he expected “imprisonment and hardships.” He warned the disciples that they might also pay for their beliefs in blood he wasn’t responsible because “I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.”
Talk about laying it on the line!!!!
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; John 15:9-17
“One of these men, then […] must become a witness with us to his resurrection” (Acts 1:20-22). These were the words of Peter… My brothers and sisters, you need to become witnesses… to the resurrection of Jesus. In effect, if you do not become his witnesses in your daily lives, who will do so in your place? Christians are, in the Church and with the Church, missionaries of Christ sent into the world. This is the indispensable mission of every ecclesial community: to receive from God the Father and to offer to the world the Risen Christ, so that every situation of weakness and of death may be transformed, through the Holy Spirit, into an opportunity for growth and life.
Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26; 1 John 4:11-16; John 17:11b-19
The theme of conflict between the Christian disciple and the world is very clear in this passage. Raymond Brown remarked that a passage such as this has “a message for an era that becomes naively optimistic about changing the world or even about affirming its values without change.” The ‘world’ in this case is not, of course, the natural world of mountains, rivers, trees… but all the worldly forces that are antagonistic to the Kingdom of God (and even to the natural world).
Acts 18:23-28; John 16:23b-28
All this week we have been reflecting on the Lord’s words from the final discourse in John’s gospel. Again and again Jesus is alerting his disciples that he will soon leave them but that they will be taken care of when he is gone. The lines before today’s reading (Jn 16 ff) repeat the theme. “In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again.” Jesus used the dramatic example of a women in childbirth: “A women in childbirth suffers, because her time has come; but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering.”
Acts 18:9-18; John 16:20-23
Trust in God and share Good News
In the first reading from Acts, Paul is told “do not be afraid and do not be silent.” The Lord assures Paul, “I am with you.” This message is meant for us, for we are not called to live in fear or fearful silence. We are called to speak Good News with our words and our actions. We are called to testify that our Redeemer lives and is with us. One challenge for me to accept is that Jesus, our Redeemer, lives in me, and in us! I can always find ways in which our world fails in the categories of justice, mercy, hope, love, and care for all. Of course, when I find those ways of the world that do not measure up to a life in Christ, I am forced to confront my own sins and failings. I am not always just, merciful, loving, hopeful, and caring to all. So I need to admit my sins and change my life, which is often a long process for me.
Acts 1:1-11; Eph 4:1-13; Mark 16:15-20
Today’s feast, Ascension Thursday is celebrated on Sunday in many dioceses of the world.
Acts 1:9 is the only canonical text that describes Jesus’ ascent into heaven. “.... as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight.”
Forty days after the Resurrection He left them in the flesh. I wonder if they felt what we feel when a loved one moves away or dies. Alone? Abandoned? Desolate? Or did they recall His promise, one that would be fulfilled in ten days? On Pentecost He would return to them pouring out His spirit. What a moment in time, between Ascension and Pentecost, between loss and promise. He does promise that we will see Him again, as we will one day see our loved ones. But what should we do in the meantime?