The first Reading comes from Acts 22:30; 23:6-11 “…My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.”…For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three….”We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”…The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”
In this Scripture passage, Luke, the author of Acts, devotes considerable attention to the development of the character of the Jews.
The tribune respects Paul’s Roman citizenship and determines: “I found that the accusation concerned disputed points of their Law but that there was no charge deserving death or imprisonment.”
When Paul is asked questions about his possible guilt in this upheaval, he chooses not to answer; rather, he pursues the questions of the resurrection.
The Sadducees and high priests are out of power at this time. On the other hand, the Pharisees are in control of Judaism and suspicious of Christianity. It appears Paul is explaining that both he and his Christian mission have intimate ties with Pharisaic beliefs. The Pharisees appear persuaded this is a true statement.
There are other Jews who want to kill Paul and approached the chief priests with this plan. Paul stands firm in the belief of the resurrection, the life after death and the existence of spiritual beings, such as angels. He stands in valid continuity with the Pharisaic Jewish heritage, while others want him eliminated.
In summary, this passage illustrates that Paul is true to character, thus giving us a solid example on how to live our lives. Paul is the pious Jew, obedient to the law, a Pharisee. It is apparent his life and Christianity flow from Pharisaic hope in a messiah and a Pharisaic belief in the resurrection of the dead.
Now, we may reflect on the fact that Jesus, raised by God, is the Messiah and perhaps his spirit talked to Paul outside the gates of Damascus.
As we reflect on Paul’s pharisaic background, it is very possible to reach the conviction that Christian belief is in the best tradition of Judaism.
Should we then ask ourselves, based on what Judaism and Christianity have in common, how much value would this understanding have in Jewish-Christian dialogues? Something to ponder on…
Imagine if Paul would know the ramifications, his encounter with the Law, would have thousands of years later, within the ecumenical dialogue context???
The Gospel comes from John 17:20-26. Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…that the world may believe that you sent me.” Jesus first prayed for himself as the Cross faced him. Then he prayed for his disciples, and now his prayers take a sweep into the distant future, he prays for those in distant lands and far-off ages who will embrace the Christian faith, without having heard it first hand from himself. He is now praying for us!!! How very amazing!!!
Jesus’s complete faith and certainty that his word will reach the ends of the earth was unshakeable, even though his followers were few and they still did not fully understand His message.
Jesus placed his complete trust and confidence to spread his name throughout the world, in some illiterate men, who still did not understand him, knowing that just in a few more hours would abandon him when he needed them the most. Jesus never lost his faith in God or his confidence in men. He still does not lose his confidence in us, in spite of how often we may let him down.
What was the prayer for the Church? What was the unity for which Jesus prayed? It was a unity of personal relationship, a unity in which men loved each other because they loved him. The way Jesus saw it, it would be precisely that unity which would convince the world of the truth of Christianity and of the place of Christ. If the world only sees the disunity of Christians, it cannot possibly see or experience the value of the Christian faith. It is then the duty of each one of us to demonstrate that unity of love with one another, which is the answer to Christ’s prayer!!!
Jesus continues praying for the gift and the promise of glory, for us.
“And I have given them the glory you gave me…Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” What was the “glory” of Jesus?
The Cross was his glory. Jesus did not speak of being crucified; he spoke of being glorified. A Christian’s glory then, is the cross that one must bear. We must not think of our cross as our punishment, rather we must think of it as our glory. It should be an honor to suffer for Christ. The harder it may be to be a Christian, the more we should regard it as our glory given to us by God. Jesus’ perfect obedience to the will of God was also his glory. We find our glory in doing God’s will and not in doing as we like. The greater the obedience, the greater the glory.
People observing Jesus’s life saw His glory. It was very obvious to recognize his special relationship with God. Living the way he did, would not be possible unless he was uniquely near to God. For us, the more the world sees in us the reflection of God, the more we will experience our glory.
It is Christ’s promise that if we share his glory and his sufferings on earth, we shall share his glory and his triumph when life on this earth ends. What greater promise could there be than that?
After this prayer, Jesus will not speak to his disciples again. His time has come. It is wonderful to remember that before the terrible hours waiting for Him, his last words were not of despair but of glory!!! What an example He left for us.
Please meditate on the Dekaena to the Holy Spirit meditation 8.
Pray for PAPA priests, pray daily the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.