7th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Psalm 97:1-2, 6-7, 9 (1a, 9a)
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20
May 29, 2022
Jesus knew He was about to be arrested, tried, and crucified. The Gospel of John presents in chapters 14-17 Jesus’ final words to his disciples before his arrest. Chapter 17 presents Jesus’ final prayer just before his arrest.
What does Jesus pray for in that moment?
He knew what was about to happen. He knew the suffering He would endure. One might expect to pray for himself.
However, in the passage we hear today, He is not praying for himself. He is praying for his disciples, and not just those present. He prays, “Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.”
We believe today, in part, because of the word that the disciples shared. Thus, Jesus is praying for us.
What does He ask for us in prayer?
Jesus prays, “that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us.” He prays for us to be one not just once but twice.
His prayer for unity among us is often used in ecumenical dialogue between different denominations of Christianity.
Jesus wants us to be one but our divisions are more than just those between denominations. The oneness of Jesus and the Father, along with the Holy Spirit is more than just common belief. It is a deep and abiding unity.
Think of the voice that John hears in our second reading. “I am the root and offspring of David.” Jesus is the offspring of David through St. Joseph. As eternal with the Father, Jesus is also the root of David.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” If you look at our Paschal Candle, you will see the symbols Alpha and Omega. Alpha was the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Omega is the last. Jesus is the beginning and the end. Our existence flows from God and, if we follow Jesus, we will spend the rest of eternity, the end, with him.
When we seek to follow Jesus, we experience “his abiding presence among us” (quote from opening prayer). We become one with him.
Unfortunately, we live in a divided world. Many are only concerned for themselves rather than loving their neighbor.
We see division in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
We see division when people do not understand that all are children of God and equal before God regardless of skin care or place of birth. When these views become extreme, we see it in events like the shooting in Buffalo last week.
We see division in morality. The divide in what people think is right grows.
We see it in politics. The most vocal people seem to be from the extremes. They may speak of relativism and tolerance but they are certain they have the right answers for if you don’t agree with them, they expect you to be silent.
We are called to be one. Jesus prays for us to be one.
Who determines what the “one” should be?
Is it those on the right or the left? Conservatives or liberals?
We all have our own opinions but no human being is all-knowing. Where do we go for truth? (for more on this see my video presentation, Where Do We Go for Truth?)
The real Truth is God’s.
God’s Truth is not self-serving. God’s Truth is not determined by what God wants for himself. It is what is good for us! Because God loves us.
This is why we can pray in the Our Father, “thy will be done.” We can trust in God’s Will because He love for us is absolute.
It is not easy to become one with God. We can’t do it on our own. We don’t have to.
Stephen prayed like Jesus, looking up to Heaven.
Stephen prayed like Jesus, handing his spirit over to Jesus.
Stephen prayed for his persecutors like Jesus when Stephen prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Stephen did all these things like Jesus because he was “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
We receive the Holy Spirit in our Baptism and are sealed with it at Confirmation. The question is do we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us or do we desire to determine our own truth?
To follow Jesus requires sacrifice. It may not be easy but it is possible. Spouses sacrifice for each other. Good parents sacrifice for their children.
On this Memorial Day weekend, we honor those who have given their lives defending others.
Jesus offers the perfect sacrifice. We need to follow Jesus to be one with him and the Father.