22May 22nd May. Tuesday of the 7th Week of Easter

Acts 20:17ff. Paul’s inspiring testament to church leaders in Asia, on his way to Jerusalem.

John 17:1ff. The high priestly prayer of Jesus, for those he must leave behind in this world.

Famous Last Words

Paul and Jesus indicate that an important phase of their ministry has been completed: Paul must proceed to Jerusalem and if he survives the persecutions in that city, he hopes to sail westward to Rome and then to Spain; Jesus declares that he has finished the work given to him by the heavenly Father and now asks: “Do you now, Father, give me glory at your side?” Paul’s words take the form of a final address in which he sums up the duties of pastors and religious leaders. Jesus, on the other hand, prays aloud and offers us one of those rare insights. We are told the content of his prayer to the Father.

Whether in sermon or in prayer, each looks to the future with calm faith and free conscience. Both Paul and Jesus confess from their heart that they have done their very best. Paul states plainly to the elders: “You know how I lived among you from the first day I set foot in the province of Asia, how I served the Lord with humility through the sorrows and trials that came my way from the plotting of some people.” As Jesus prays that the Father give him glory at his side, he adds: “These men you gave me were yours; they have kept your word. I have made your name known to them.” Paul too faces a future of uncertainty, knowing that chains and hardships await him at Jerusalem. Jesus, for his part, prays for his disciples. Their future is uncertain because of the dangers and tensions  of the apostolate. “For these I pray … I am in the world no more, but these are in the world as I come to you.” Jesus could not, or at least did not predict exactly what lies ahead; he would only pray that his followers remain faithful to his person and to his teaching.

We too can face the future calmly. For when we finish the work given to us by the Father, God will take us to Himself.

First Reading: Acts 20:17-27

From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. When they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the entire time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house, as I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus. And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.

“And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.

Gospel: John 17:1-11

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

 


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