3rd June. Tuesday in the 7th Week of Easter
Saint Kevin, abbot.
Coemgen (Caoimhin or Kevin (498-618) is an Irish saint who first live as a hermit and then founded a monastery at Glendalough in County Wicklow, which became a famous centre of learning. He is remembered in popular culture as an ascetic who lived a very simple life, close to nature. Saint Kevin is co-patron of Dublin archdiocese.
First Reading: Acts 20:17-27
(Paul’s testament to the church leaders of Ephesus, on his way to Jerusalem.)
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
(The high priestly prayer of Jesus, for those he must leave behind in this world.)
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.
Famous Last Words
We have some famous last words from Saint Paul and from Jesus in today’s readings. Each of them indicates that the substance 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 evangelise Spain. Jesus declares that he has finished the work given to him by his heavenly Father and now prays: “Now, Father, give me glory at your side.” As his parting advice, Paul sums up the duties of pastors and religious leaders. Jesus, on the other hand, prays aloud for them and for all who will join his community in times to come.
Both Paul’s sermon and Jesus’ prayer look to the future with calm faith and both confess from their heart that they have done their very best. Paul tells the elders plainly: “You know how I lived among you from the first day I came here, how I served the Lord with humility through the sorrows and trials that came my way.” And Jesus affirms the basic fidelity of his friends: “Those whom you gave me were yours; they have kept your word. I have made your name known to them.” Paul faces a future of uncertainty, knowing that imprisonment probably awaits him at Jerusalem. Jesus, for his part, prays for his disciples, as they face an uncertain future in the apostolate. “It is for these that I pray … for they are in the world as I come to you.” Jesus did not predict exactly what lies ahead; he would only pray that his followers remain faithful to his person and to his teaching.
Their situation was no different from that facing priests, religious and committed laity today. We too should face the uncertain future with faith and calmness. For when we finish the work given to us by the Father, God will take us to Himself.