Thursday, May 12, 2016

Liturgical Year C, Cycle II

First Reading: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 16:1-2, 5, 7-11
Gospel: John 17:20-26

The Luminous Mystery

First Reading: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

Paul before the Council

30 But on the next day, meaning to know more diligently for what cause he was accused by the Jews, he loosed him, and commanded the priests to come together, and all the council: and bringing forth Paul, he set him before them.

6 And Paul knowing that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, cried out in the council: Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees: concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the multitude was divided.

8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

9 And there arose a great cry. And some of the Pharisees rising up, strove, saying: We find no evil in this man. What if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel?

10 And when there arose a great dissension, the tribune fearing lest Paul should be pulled in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

11 And the night following the Lord standing by him, said: Be constant; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 16:1-2, 5, 7-11

Song of Trust and Security in God

A Miktam of David.

The inscription of a title to David himself. Preserve me, O Lord, for I have put trust in thee.

2 I have said to the Lord, thou art my God, for thou hast no need of my goods.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: it is thou that wilt restore my inheritance to me.

7 I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding: moreover my reins also have corrected me even till night.

8 I set the Lord always in my sight: for he is at my right hand, that I be not moved.

9 Therefore my heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced: moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope.

10 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; nor wilt then give thy holy one to see corruption.

11 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life, thou shalt fill me with joy with thy countenance: at thy right hand are delights even to the end.

Gospel: John 17:20-26

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

20 And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me;

21 That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.

24 Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me may be with me; that they may see my glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world.

25 Just Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee: and these have known that thou hast sent me.

26 And I have made known thy name to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.

“May they become perfectly one”

When you pray what do you usually ask for - God's help, blessing, guidance, and wisdom? One of the greatest privileges and responsibilities we have been given by God is to pray not only for ourselves, but for others as well. The Lord Jesus lived a life full of prayer, blessing, and gratitude. He prayed for his disciples, especially when they were in great need or danger. Mark tells us in his Gospel account (see chapter 6:46-51) that when Jesus was praying alone on the mountain he saw that his disciples were in great distress due to a life-threatening storm that was beating against their boat. Jesus immediately came to their rescue - walking on the waves of the rough waters before he calmed them! Luke records in his Gospel account the words of Jesus to Simon Peter shortly before Jesus' arrest and Peter's denial of the Lord three times. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32). Jesus' prayers were personal, direct, and focused on the good of others.

Jesus prays for all Christians to be united as one
The longest recorded prayer of Jesus is found in the Gospel of John, the "high priestly" prayer which Jesus prayed aloud at his last supper meal with his disciples (John 17). This prayer most clearly reveals the heart of Jesus - who and what he loved most - love for his Father and love for those who believed in him. His prayer focused on the love and unity he desired for all who would believe in him and follow him, not only in the present, but in the future as well. Jesus' prayer concludes with a petition for the unity among all Christians who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus prays for all men and women who will come after him and follow him as his disciples. In a special way Jesus prays here for each one of us that as members of his body the church we would be one as he and his Father are one. The unity of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, with the eternal Father is a unity of mutual love, service, and honor, and a oneness of mind, heart, and spirit. The Lord Jesus calls each and every one of his followers into this unity of mutual love, service, honor, and friendship with all who belong to Christ.

To make him known and loved by all
Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his sacrifice shows the great love and trust he had for his beloved disciples. He knew they would abandon him in his hour of trial, yet he entrusted to them the great task of spreading his name throughout the world and to the end of the ages. The Lord Jesus entrust us today with the same mission - to make him known and loved by all. Jesus died and rose again that all might be one as he and the Father are one. Do you love and accept all baptized Christians as your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Jesus gave us basically only two prayers.  (Recall: “prayer” in the New Testament almost always means petition.)  The first is the “Our Father”, which tells us what we should ask God for (“establish your  kingdom now”), and the second is Jesus’ own prayer to His Father, which is the subject of today’s Gospel and which tells us pretty clearly what Jesus himself wants for His people.   He wants unity – unity between the branches of the Christian church, unity within the branches of the churches, unity within parishes, unity within families.  Jesus wants us to be one, as He and the Father are one.   Such unity, so hard for us to achieve, is a principal sign of God’s presence.  It is, in fact, the one feature of the Christian church that will be sufficiently attractive  to  outsiders that it will draw them in.  By contrast, division and discord drive people away.  Division and discord surely do not manifest Christ’s presence.

Remember:  unity does not mean uniformity.   We can and should differ.  None of us is wise enough or knowledgeable enough to have the whole truth.  Differences allow us go get a more complete grasp on the complexities of life and church.   Unity means we respect one another’s understanding, views, and priorities.

It’s hard to attach too much importance to this mark of the divine.  The division of the Christian churches – to take only the largest manifestation of our “not-oneness” – is a literal scandal.  Though individually we didn’t create it, still we tolerate  it and thereby are responsible for its continued presence.  It is, in a sense, like racial prejudice or any of the other “–isms” that divide us.  It’s everyone’s job to stop it.

For starters we have to get out of the “us-and-them” mentality, particularly the “we’re right and they’re wrong” mindset.  We have to seek ways of working together across confessional lines.  We need to take every opportunity to worship together.   Within the larger Christian community we’re all brothers and sisters, of Jesus and of one another.  That’s because we’ve all been baptized, and by our baptisms we are missioned – commissioned – to be Christ for our world – “them” as well as “us”.  That means not just following a set of rules (the Pharisees did that), but literally working to save our world which, at the creation, God had found good.  “Saving” our world means not just conservation of the planet but application of systems of government and economics that are inclusive and promote the common good.  And in this effort we have to recognize that, ultimately, doing this is God’s work, not ours.  We can’t do it by ourselves.  But we can block it.  Now there’s a frightening thought.

As a perhaps surprising manifestation of the divine unity, It’s  helpful to realize that the two prayers of Jesus (ours and His) blend into one (and their petitions answered), for when at last we are truly one, then God’s kingdom, God’s rule, will have been established in our world.

by Robert Heaney
Creighton University's John A. Chair
click here for photo and information about the writer


Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
Bible Story illustrations by publishing.com 

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