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7th Sunday of Easter, Year B – Homily

7th Sunday of Easter, Year B
Acts 1:15-17a, 20a, 20c-26
Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20 (19a)
1 John 4:11-16
John 17:11-19
May 13, 2018

Today we hear Jesus’ final prayer before he is arrested and crucified.  He knew what was coming.  He knew he was about to suffer his Passion but he accepted it as God’s will.

One might think Jesus’ prayer would be entirely about himself at this point.  It isn’t.  The portion of Jesus’ prayer that we hear today is for us.  Here we might learn a lesson for ourselves.  When we face death, do we think of others?  It is possible.  I have seen people say on their deathbed that their concern is not for themselves but for those they leave behind.

Let’s get back to Jesus’ prayer.  What is it that Jesus prays for us?  He prays that our Father keeps us in his name.  He prays that we may be one just as he and the Father are one.  He prays that the Father keeps us from the evil one.  Lastly, he prays for us to be consecrated in truth.

Jesus has protected and guarded his disciples.  Now he asks the Father to keep us in his name.  What does this mean?  Jesus came as the way and the truth and the life.  He came to lead us in our Father’s way.  To live as God teaches is to remain in his name.

Jesus prays that we may be one just as he and the Father are one.  It is not God’s will for us to be centered on ourselves.  The greatest commandment is love God.  The second is to love our neighbor.  This means setting aside our selfish desires to focus on the good of all to work as one.

Here I bring in Jesus’ words of how the world hates his disciples.  I see this today in people who put themselves at the center of their own universe.  They hate us in the sense that they can’t understand why don’t think like them.

We know there are people who don’t like what Jesus offers, Truth.  They want to have their own truth but we don’t get to determine what “Truth.”  It is something that transcends us.  “Truth” comes from God.

Do you share the “truth” that Jesus brings?

It isn’t easy.  Telling the truth can come with a price.  For instance, we know that as children, if we have done something wrong, we might get in trouble if we tell the truth.  So, we try to hide the truth.

As adults, we might be afraid to speak Jesus’ truth because we might offend someone.  I know that.  I feel it myself sometimes when I preach.  Even now, I feel that I could offer a list of things that the world thinks are okay but our faith tells us is bad.  The list includes how we treat life in the womb, sexual behaviors, and how we care for the world that God has created for us.  Sometimes I fear someone might not hear me correctly or misunderstand what I say or someone might be offended by what I say.

So, it can seem best to keep quiet.  However, is Jesus offended when we keep quiet?

Jesus died for us on the Cross.  Are we willing to suffer rejection in his name?

It isn’t easy.  Jesus does not want us to “hurt” anyone.  We are not to judge but we are to offer the truth.  It is for each person to decide what to do in their own lives but, if they are to be truly free in their choice, they must know about Jesus and what he offers.  It is their choice but it is only truly a choice when they know about Jesus.

We need to listen to Jesus and the Holy Spirit to know if and when to speak up.  When we are called to speak up, we rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the words and the courage.  We pray that as we work to make God’s truth known, we make sure God’s love is also known and the center of what we say and do.

Again, it is not for us to judge.  Jesus says so in Matthew 7:1.  To use a common phrase, we are to hate the sin but love the sinner.

Some may reject what we say.  Others may embrace it. It is their choice.  Ezekiel 3:17-21 tells us we are only responsible for whether we speak the truth or not.

Again, I feel like I could start offering a list of behaviors that the world embraces that are contrary to what God has taught.  Yet, it seems more in keeping with the Spirit at this moment in time, to focus today on the importance of “Truth” as it comes from God.

It’s not about what I think is “truth” or what you think.  God is the origin of the “Truth” that we truly seek.  God kindles a flame within us to know the “Truth” ourselves.  When we know it, then we can live it and share it with others.

Jesus prayed for his disciples before he departed.  He did what he was called to do and it was time to move to the next level.

Here I think of parents who have children whose time has come to graduate and move onto the next stage of their lives.  Sometimes it is hard for the parent to let go as the child wants to go running out the door.  The child might think they are ready for anything but they will discover the world is not an easy place.  Parents can always pray for their children, that they have prepared them well with the “Truth” of Jesus.

It is my prayer that as a spiritual father that I help you embrace the full “Truth” of Jesus Christ and that you live in all you do.

May the Spirit always guide us to know if and when to speak and what to say.

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