Seventh Sunday of Easter – A Cycle – John 17:1-11
Abraham Lincoln won over more people to his cause by
his death than he would have had there been no
assassination. Begin with Edwin Stanton, his Secretary of
War. Early in his administration, Stanton had sneeringly referred to him as “that giraffe.” But immediately after the president’s murder, Stanton blubbered tearfully, “There lies the greatest ruler…the world has ever seen.”
Your personal radar should be warning you that today you are walking into awesome country. For this is the only Gospel where the Teacher names Himself “Jesus Christ.”
Jesus has eaten sparingly. Still He reluctantly pushes away from the table in that famous Upper Room that Thursday eve. You would be reluctant too if you knew what the next day was offering. The Last Supper is history. Surrounded by His well-fed guests, He walks out into the air. The clever John sets the scene by telling us the Master raises His eyes to the heavens. Then, under the starry, starry night, He begins what has come to be known in history as the priestly prayer. As you listen to Him speak to His Father, you fear that you are listening to a conversation that was meant to be private.
In the first five verses, He prays for Himself. And, in the balance of today’s Gospel, He prays for His colleagues. They are shuffling restlessly about Him and thinking only of an after-dinner cognac, a Havana cigar, and a good night’s sleep.
At this point, Jesus is the King who must die. Yet, He says, “Father…glorify your Son that your Son may glorify you.” What is this all about? How could He be so upbeat?
It is one of the strange paradoxes of history that death is often the entrance into glory. (William Barclay) As it was with Lincoln, so too it is with Christ. Matthew 27:54 tells us that the Centurion on Calvary was overwhelmed by the majesty of the death he had just witnessed. And there burst out of him that eternal one-liner, “Clearly this was the Son of God!” And, as it was for the nameless Centurion, so it remains for you and me almost 2000 years after the fact. “In hoc signo, vinces.”
Erase Good Friday and you would have to put the glory of Easter Sunday in the back of the file cabinet. Yet some in each century insist on removing the cross from Christianity. But what do they end up with? A la carte choosings from the message of Jesus: a sample of this and a sample of that. Many Christians are not able to see the redemptive value in suffering. In time of difficulties, they are deprived of a model to emulate. God is neglected and a false god embraced for one’s own fulfillment and kicks. Stripping Christianity of the cross prompts the question, “Where’s the beef?”
“I have…finished the work that you gave me to do.” Once Christ had finished that celebrated supper, He could have rolled up His sleeping bag and retreated north on a long fishing holiday to the Sea of Galilee. Not even the Father would have gotten in His way to ask, “Quo vadis?” Yet, had He listened to His fears and exited the programmed crucifixion, you and I would never have known just how much God was willing to expend for us. The Son freely walked into a horrendous murder. Cannot even the dullest among us guess at the love God has for everyone of us? And, as the Christ stayed the course, so also must we.
“Eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God.” To know the only true God means much, much more than knowing Him with one’s brainpan. It is to know Him with heart and the spirit. Sigmund Freud wrote, “In small matters trust the mind but in the large ones the heart.” Thanks to Christ, we know that God is not playing the recluse on us. Quite the contrary! He is very definitely within our reach and touch. Is it possible that the Teacher could have been more graphic and blunt in His language? I think not.
I attended a grammar school concert. The man next to me told me his son was singing in the choir. “Wait till you hear him.” The concert began. The choir was made up of eighty boys and girls. The father asked, “Doesn’t he sing beautifully?” I of course could not hear the boy, but I was certain his father could. God is the same with ourselves. Though we are all part of a huge chorus that makes up the six billion plus people in the world, He is able to hear each of us as though we were singing solo.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 1, 2014
The Ascension of Our Lord, Year A—June 1, 2014
Gospel (Read Mt 28:16-20)
Today’s Gospel records the end of Jesus’ forty days of post-Resurrection appearances and teaching. The account of what actually happened during those days is quite spare. We know that although Jesus appeared to His friends, His relationship with them was not as it had been before. He appeared and disappeared. He was often not immediately recognizable. Things had changed. As we work our way through today’s readings, we see that an even bigger change was about to take place.
Homily for the Seventh Sunday in Easter
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, my reward with me.
Jesus, who this past Thursday Ascended into Heaven, is coming soon back to us. On Pentecost Sunday He will come into the hearts of the disciples in the Upper Room, bringing them “His reward”, the Holy Spirit, with Him.
(St. Paul, incidentally, calls the Holy Spirit the “down payment” of that reward given to all who follow Jesus in this life. On judgment day, Jesus will “pay in full” each person according to his or her deeds.)
Ascension – What’s in it for Me?
The celebration of the Ascension used to leave me a bit flat. It was clear what Good Friday did for me. And Easter Sunday’s benefits were indisputable. But as for the Ascension, what’s in it for me?
Christianity is about a kind of love we call agape or charity. It is love that looks away from itself to another and gives itself away for another. The Divine Word did not become man or endure the cross because something was in it for Him.
Solemnity of the Ascension: Loneliness and the Presence
There were only eleven of them, eleven disciples. Judas had betrayed the Lord. Matthias had not yet been chosen. So just eleven men went to Galilee following the message Jesus had given to them on Easter Sunday through Mary Magdalen. They were told to meet Jesus on the mountain in Galilee. What were they thinking when they climbed that mountain? Were they thinking about Moses who climbed Mt. Sinai to receive God’s covenant of the Ten Commandments? Perhaps they were thinking about Elijah who climbed that same mountain, only called Horeb.
Christ’s Resurrection Unites Us,Pope Proclaims at Ecumenical Celebration
JERUSALEM — At an ecumenical celebration in Jerusalem during his visit to the region, Pope Francis told interdenominational Christians that the risen Christ unites them all in a message of hope for the world.
“Each of us, everyone baptized in Christ, has spiritually risen from this tomb, for in baptism, all of us truly became members of the body of the One who is the firstborn of all creation,” Pope Francis said.
5 Ways the Eucharist Erases the Original Sin
In that seemingly dismal specter that was Golgotha, the Church has always seen hints of the Garden of Eden.
Just as the entire human race sinned and died in Adam, so also all were redeemed and restored to new life, St. Paul writes (Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15). Taking its cue from St. Paul, the Church has drawn further parallels. Just as Christ was a second Adam, so also Mary was a second Eve. And just as a tree was once the scene of so much sin, a tree (the cross) became the source of so much grace. Each figure or element from the Genesis account is annulled by a greater reality in the gospels, so the thinking goes.
“The Ascension: To Be Continued
A good story will typically end nicely, bringing everything to a neat conclusion—perhaps with the words “And they lived happily ever after.” So it would make sense for the Gospel — the greatest story ever told — to end the same way: Christ returns home to His Father and “They live happily ever after.”
Following the Footsteps of the Fisherman
Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land carries enormous significance as the heir of St. Peter. In a real sense, the successor of St. Peter is returning to his roots with this visit to the Holy Land. He is going back to where it all began, and he will be the first successor of St. Peter to offer the Eucharist in the Cenacle, the upper room where the Apostles celebrated the Last Supper with Jesus and where they gathered to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit until Pentecost.
Our Journey Back to God
Three Jehovah Witnesses visited our seminary a few days ago. In the course of our discussion, they offered me a complementary (but unsolicited) copy of their magazine. The front page had a picture of a happy looking family, with the sun shining brightly in the background, a beautiful water fall behind them, some animals in the background, beautiful well-kept green lawns and many children praying and laughing. One of them said to me, “This is what paradise will be like.” I mentioned that I never heard of a paradise here on earth. He told me that after the Resurrection, only the faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses will be saved from eternal annihilation and reside forever on Paradise earth.
Spiritual Combat: A Call to Arms
Perhaps one of the greatest temptations in the Catholic life is that of complacency. We go through the motions, attending Mass on Sunday and maybe going to a parish program or two, but the Faith never really penetrates deep into our souls. It remains a superficial reality; just another thing to do in our comfortable, civilized lives.
We love to complain about the problems in the Church—rending our garments over this bad bishop or this corrupt priest. We ask: Where are the saints of the modern Church? Where are the holy men and women who can be shining lights in this dark world? We lament the state of things, never realizing that it is us that God has called to be saints. It is we who must strive for sanctity as if our life depended on it—because it does.