The first reading comes from the Acts of the Apostles 20:28-38
And the “journey” for the Apostles and new Christians continues after they experienced Jesus’ death on the cross and Ascension into Heaven. Both events so difficult to understand when you thought He would be by your side for several more years and even be the King everyone was looking for…It could not have been easy. Imagine we were part of that group of new believers, their faith being tested, so is ours even today…
As if it would not be enough, while they were still grieving the “physical” loss of their Teacher Jesus; now Paul, who has been a faithful evangelizer, tirelessly giving of himself, model missionary, while on his way to martyrdom delivers his Farewell Speech to the Church of Ephesus.
The Speech, (prayer,) is addressed to all presbyters of the Church and all missionaries, which means this is addressed to each one of us. This is the only Speech he ever gave to an audience made up of only Christians.
…”Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the Church of God that he acquired with his own Blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears…”
Paul is warning the missionary-pastors of Ephesus that outside missionaries will swoop down on their missionary territory like fierce wolves, (false prophets.) Some of their fellow missionaries will turn the truth sour. They may be Jewish or Jewish-Christian missionaries who will now argue that the message of Paul, the founder of their church, did not contain “the whole purpose of God.”
Paul’s era has come to an end. Will those early Christians be able to continue as the Church established by Jesus and continued by Paul?
With the grace of God they did and we continue. Paul is leaving them with the example of the way he led his life and practiced his ministry. He is leaving with them, (us) the sound advice contained in his farewell address. We, too, are new missionaries and must be constantly aware of some attractive false teachings and/or teachers, which may try to lure us away from the true teachings of our Faith. Let us always stay vigilant and in constant prayer, lest not be tempted to leave our path.
The Responsorial Psalm comes from Psalm 68. I will quote only a few lines:”…Awesome in his sanctuary is God, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people.” If we believe and hang on to such power and strength, we will stay on our path!
The Gospel of John is so very packed with truths that we are not always able to grasp them all. Today’s reading is a Prayer of Jesus for the protection of his Disciples.
John 17: 11 -19 “Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one….But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
“…that you have given me” it would seem to imply that the Spirit of God moves our hearts to respond to the call of Jesus, hence, giving us to Him.
Jesus is pleading for the disciples to remain united. This can be heard as a plead for unity of all Christians in our time. Notice that this is a “prayer” not a “command” for his disciples.
He is offering his disciples two things: his JOY, no matter the circumstances and we must remember that as well; always keep this joy of the Lord with us.
The other thing Jesus offers to them is WARNING. He is telling them they are different from the world so they would expect to be hated. In John’s Gospel, “the world” does not have the connotation of the beautiful world created by God; it mostly stands for “human society organizing itself without God.” In other words, the type of “secularized” society in which we live these days.
In some mysterious ways, there will be JOY in battling against the storms they would encounter. Therefore, one can say that it is by facing the hostilities of the world, with the grace of God, one can enter into the true Christian Joy.
Jesus pleads with His Heavenly Father to keep the disciples united. He knows that as human beings that they are, sin will eventually enter in their lives and with it, disunion.
It appears He is already pleading for unity of all Christians in our time. This union is really an imperative not merely an option and we must pray for it unceasingly.
Indeed, this message is very relevant today!
Hopefully, we may become part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer, rather than the problem.
Please meditate on the Dekaena to the Holy Spirit meditation 7.
Pray for PAPA priests, pray daily the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.