Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them;” and when he said this, he fell asleep. Ps 97:1-2, 6-7, 9 Responsorial Psalm
R. The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth. The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. Justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne. R. The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth. The heavens proclaim his justice, and all peoples see his glory. All gods are prostrate before him. R. The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth. You, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods. R. The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.
Rev 22:12-14, 16-17, 20 Reading 2
I, John, heard a voice saying to me: “Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates.
“I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star.”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let the hearer say, “Come.” Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.
The one who gives this testimony says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
Jn 17:20-26 Gospel
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved 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. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”
Jesus is away. The Easter
candle that reminded us of him is put aside. We are, like the apostles in those
in-between days, waiting. Those apostles must have been waiting with a certain
amount of apprehension. They knew their waiting was a lull before the storm, a
pause before their work, an intermission before their mission. It is about that
mission that Jesus speaks in the gospel reading of today.
The gospel of John speaks
again and again about that mission left by him. In John’s gospel, Jesus speaks
twenty-one times about being sent by the Father into this world. Today’s
mission is well-known: “That they may be one, as you, Father, and I, your
offspring, are one.” Do we understand that Jesus is praying to his Father, for
his apostles, for his disciples, for US, that we be one as Jesus and the Father
is one? Do we understand that Jesus is praying for US
to be one in him, in his divine mission, despite our human frailties?
A mission that we cannot accomplish without him? Can we comprehend the total
selfless love that is in the heart of Jesus for all of us, all of us sinners, us
ordinary human beings?
We all know that text. We
know it very well. We especially know it within an ecumenical context.
“That they may be one” seems to mean that
Jesus prayed that the Lutherans, Presbyterians, Roman Catholic, Quakers,
Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Assembly of God, and Reformed Churches might
We might be wrong. Maybe
Jesus did not pray for that unity, though that unity will be the outcome of his
He prayed for another unity
among his apostles and those who listen to those apostles. Reducing the text to
“ecumenism” may be one of our attempts to escape from our real mission in this
world, if only because ecumenism is something that seems to concern church
leadership, and therefore others. We
always try to escape from our real mission. Jesus said: “That they may be one
as I am one with you, Father, who sent me: one in the intention to redeem, to
save, to liberate, to serve, to assist, to deliver, to make grow. Father, let
them be one in that redemptive purpose of ours.”
It is at that very practical
level that Jesus prays we should be one. It is at that level that Jesus hopes
the world may start to believe in him, the Father, the Spirit, and us, his
followers. We have a stake in that redemptive process, not just our own, but
also of others. It is from that point of view that Jesus says, when they report
to him that others are driving out the devils of this world in his name: “Don’t
bother, my name is preached, my mission is on its way.”
Father, that they may be one,
as you and I are one, you who sent me into this world. This unity that Jesus is
speaking about to his Father is LOVE, the Father’s love living in Jesus and his
love living in us. And what do we do with that love my friends? To whom do we
give it? Who needs our love? Who needs that unity Jesus spoke of.
We do. We need it with a passion. We
may be asking ourselves the question, "But how can I be a source of this unity?
I, who am sick, who am old, who cannot get out and about, I, who am struggling
myself? Well, what did Jesus do people? He PRAYED to his
Father for that unity of love.
It seems that in our world of
today, that love and unity are lacking. We are the bearers of the Good News.
It is our responsibility to change things around, to make a difference, to be
counted for, to come from behind our locked closet doors to see that the world
needs us. And in these days and times, the world definitely needs us. It needs
us to love, to trust, to forgive, and to believe in the only thing that does
make any sense right now, and that is Jesus’ love and to take that love and to
pass it on, and on, and on, in the very everyday ordinariness of our lives, as
each one of us are able.
We have to go beyond the
trauma of the moral decay in this country; beyond the despair, beyond the
corruption, beyond the appearance of things. The salvation of human kind is our
mission now, but a mission that can only be accomplished if we come together in
unity as one people, as Jesus prayed to his Father for us to be. We can do that
folks, together, we can do that in unity with the Father, the Son, and the Holy
It is my hope that this
message was meaningful to you. Thank you and God bless each of you, and have a
great week ahead, sharing the good news of the Lord.