7th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Psalm 97:1-2, 6-7, 8 (1a, 9a)
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20
June 2, 2019
The words that we hear from Jesus today are his very last words before He is arrested and crucified. They are words of prayer.
Since Jesus knew what was coming, one might expect his final prayer to focus solely on him. It did not. Jesus’ prayer is for his disciples and all who will come to believe in him through the words of the disciples. Jesus is praying for us.
In fact, all of chapter 17 in John’s Gospel is a prayer of Jesus. It is known as Jesus’ “high priestly prayer.” In today’s portion, Jesus centers on two things. First, that we, as his disciples, may be one. Then He speaks of knowing God our Father.
He prays that we “may be one” just as the Father and He is one. The union between God our Father and Jesus is a perfect union. Along with the Holy Spirit, they are three persons but one God. In two weeks, we will celebrate Trinity Sunday as we recognize the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a central mystery of our faith.
Jesus wants us to be part of that union, for us to be “one.” To lead us to this, He came in the world because the world did not know the Father. Jesus makes the Father known to us. The Mosaic Law guided the people to know what is good. Jesus comes to help us know God not just as a giver of commandments but as one who loves us and wants to be one with us.
Knowing God is not just knowing history and commandments. It is much deeper than that. Think of all the people you know. Do you know them all in the same way? How many people do you know their face and/or their name but you know little more?
For those in school, there are probably a lot of students you know their name but you don’t really know them. The same can be true if you work. You know people’s names. You may even know what they do in their job. Your job may even be dependent on what they do but do you know them as a unique person, a child of God?
In the same way, ask yourself how well you know God. Is God someone you say hello to on Sunday or is He part of your whole life?
In Revelation, John tells us of God’s words, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” God is eternal. He was present at the beginning of time as we know it and will be present at the end. God transcends all that we see.
Is it possible for us to be one with God, God who is all-knowing and all-powerful?
Stephen is an example of one who lives striving to be one with God.
Jesus began his high priestly prayer by “Lifting up his eyes to heaven.” He does this as his persecutors are about to attack.
Stephen was being persecuted for preaching about Jesus. As Stephen faced this persecution, he “looked up intently to heaven.” Stephen did what Jesus did.
As Stephen was being stoned to death, ‘he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,”’ paralleling Jesus’ words on the Cross, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Stephen’s last words were, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” paralleling Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Stephen was a human being just like us. He was not perfect but he did know Jesus’ words, action, and love. Stephen centered his life on following Jesus. Stephen sought to be one with God. He submitted to the Father’s Will. He followed the example of Jesus and was “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Knowing Jesus can start in the human sense of knowing about Jesus’ life and what He did for us. Knowing Jesus includes knowing what He taught. Truly knowing Jesus means opening our hearts and souls to him, to be one with the Father and him.