7th Week of Easter, Thursday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord prays for a unity among his disciples that is not just eternal (with God and all the departed believers who have gone before us and persevered in the faith) but also historical (something that lasts through the centuries until the end of time and beyond). Christian unity must be spiritual and visible, which is why we know the sad divisions between Christians today are not what Our Lord wants for his Church, nor that we be bickering like the Pharisees and Sadducees  in today’s First Reading. The world waiting for Christ often looks upon us with the same perplexity as that Roman commander in the First Reading who was trying to get answers and instead got a riot. We can’t hinder the Gospel message through quarreling or agreeing to disagree.

The divisions between Christians at one point in history sadly led to all out war, and Our Lord prayed to the Father that one characteristic of our unity be charity. We are learning that lesson little by little, but charity, truth, and prayer are what will one day enable us once again to celebrate the same sacraments together, profess the same faith together, and follow the same pastoral leadership together. The Pharisees and Sadducees  in today’s First Reading argued about the truth of the Resurrection as a general teaching, and on that point, at least, the Pharisees were right, but if someone is in your face it’s not likely that you’re going to accept any truth that comes from his mouth.

Let’s join our prayer today to the prayer of Our Lord: that Christians may be united, spiritually and visibly, in truth, in charity, and in the desire to share the Gospel message with the whole world, above all through our example of charity.

Readings: Acts 22:30, 23:6–11; Psalm 16:1–2a, 5, 7–11; John 17:20–26.

7th Week of Easter, Wednesday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord continues to pray to the Father for the disciples who he must soon leave behind, just as Paul is saying his final farewell to the elders of Ephesus in the First Reading. Part of human life is the moment where our work here ends and we go, God-willing, to meet Our Heavenly Father. As believers we know that even then we’ll still be involved in the lives of those we’ve left behind: they’re not untouched by having us as a part of their life, and if we persevere in the faith and join the saints in Heaven we can continue to look down upon them from above and to intercede for them, just as Jesus does in today’s Gospel and does now for all eternity at the right hand of the Father.

The one thing that can go wrong in this plan is not reaching where God wants us to go: Jesus warns against the influence and action of the “world” and the “Evil One” and he knows we need God to protect us from the evil that always put obstacles in our path. Paul entrusts the elders and the flock to God so that they stand firm against threats to the flock, threats that see them as nothing more than a free lunch, and those who present appealing lies and false teachings as if they were true. We must be vigilant, but we also know that God is on our side. Jesus may not live among us in the way he did two thousand years ago, but he is still spiritually and sacramentally with us, and his Gospel continues to shape our lives as the truth that will protect us from the wolves, the “world”, the Evil One, and from false teaching, aided by our pastors and deacons.

Let’s pray for our pastors and deacons today, and that we all remain true to the Gospel and have the strength to resist whatever wants to come between us and Our Lord.

Readings: Acts 20:28–38; Psalm 68:29–30, 33–36b; John 17:11b–19.

7th Week of Easter, Tuesday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches us that we glorify God by doing what is pleasing to him, and presents a list of things showing exactly that. In sending the Son God shows us concretely how our lives can glorify him: by following, imitating, and sharing the Gospel of and about Christ. Glory in the language of Jesus today is more than just receiving a pat on the back or a commendation to hang on your wall: it is transformation of your life into something more profound and more wonderful, even right here and now, as the first fruits of receiving the gift of eternal life.

We give glory to God by living a virtuous and holy life while at the same time giving credit where credit is due, just as Jesus in today’s Gospel gives credit to the Father, not just to his own accomplishments on earth. Our Lord has entrusted us with many gifts, not just for ourselves, but for others, and we give him the credit for that by acknowledging it before God and before others even while we share those gifts and edify others with our example of Christian living.

Let’s try to glorify Our Lord today in some act of virtue or holiness in order to give credit where credit is due.

Readings: Acts 20:17–27; Psalm 68:10–11, 20–21; John 17:1–11a.

7th Week of Easter, Monday

In today’s Gospel the disciples believe they have Our Lord all figured out, and for that reason they declare their faith in him. Within a few hours, as Jesus warns them, their faith will vanish as quickly as the appearance of a group of armed men in Gethsemane searching for Jesus. God is mystery, mystery in the sense that we can spend our entire life trying to fathom him and his designs and never completely exhaust what we can know about him. He’s not some little Internet factoid that we read, file somewhere, and then click to go on to the next thing that piques our curiosity.

Knowledge about God is not enough for a solid faith; it requires grace as well. These same men after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus will be locked away in a room, still not quite sure of what God was asking of them, but waiting to receive power from on high, just as Jesus promised them before ascending into Heaven. Christian life is an ongoing communication with God not only of information, but of grace in order to live all he expects of us.

Let’s also take courage today from two promises Our Lord makes in today’s Gospel: first, that, like him, the Father is always with us, no matter how alone we feel, and that Jesus, amidst all the trials and troubles of this life, has conquered the world.

Readings: Acts 19:1–8; Psalm 68:2–3b, 4–5a, 5c–7b; John 16:29–33.

7th Week of Easter, Sunday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord prays not only for the disciples hearing his words during the Last Supper, but for every Christian. He prays for us to be just as united, just as “one” as he and the Father are one, and that is a tall order. We are called to live a unity like the unity of the Trinity, and he actually enables us to participate in that unity, albeit not in the same way as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but a unity that we call communion. Jesus is praying today for us to share a communion of life and love, not just with God, but with each other. And the biggest obstacle to living that communion is us.

The “world” Jesus speaks of today is everything that goes contrary to communion with each other and with God. We live in this environment, and we struggle with it every day. Sometimes the “world” seems more organized, more successful, but Jesus prays that we be consecrated in truth to remember than any illusion of communion between the worldly, more often than not, will vanish when their interests start to diverge. Ultimately it is the difference between selflessness–genuinely caring for others and seeking their good as much as our own–and selfishness–a life of alliances that are made and broken, often at the expense of others and leading us in the end to a friendless existence. Our Lord wants to free us from places, circumstances, and mindsets that are simply worldly, and worldliness is a constant temptation in this life, which is why Our Lord prays for us today to be free of it.

Let’s ask Our Lord today for the grace to conquer a little more of the worldliness in which we live by living a charitable life that is concerned with God and with others.

Readings: Acts 1:15–17, 20a, 20c–26; Psalm 103:1–2, 11–12, 19–20; 1 John 4:11–16; John 17:11b–19.