7th Week of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Wishing to determine the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews, the commander freed him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them. Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees, so he called out before the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the group became divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three. A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued, “We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” The dispute was so serious that the commander, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst and take him into the compound. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”
Gospel: Jn 17:20-26
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not only for these, 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.”
I AM A PHARISEE: Pharisees have a bad press in the contemporary Christian discourse. In the 1st reading, St Paul boasts about himself being a Pharisee and a son of a Pharisee. Jesus himself had many friends among the Pharisees: Simon, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus enjoyed meals with them. He was buried in a tomb belonging to a Pharisee. If their names get mentioned in the gospels that means they were known in the early church. Generally, Jesus’ teaching was closer to that of the Pharisees, than to any other group of his time, especially what concerned the belief in after-life and resurrection of the dead, angels, and spirits. It is in this connection that St Paul himself claims to be a Pharisee in front of the Sanhedrin defending himself. And this is a core of our faith, that the Pharisees shared with Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, help me believe. Help me believe in the world beyond.
WE ARE GOD’S GIFT TO CHRIST: It so pleased the Father that he willed us to become his sons and daughters through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Through him, we are entitled to call God the Father, “Daddy”. With Christ and through him, we enjoy that intimate relationship with the father and the privileges of being children of God. What an unbelievable story! But that is what we are (1Jn. 3:1). Our Lord is so generous: he takes us as his Father’s gift to him and he wishes that where he is we also may be in his glory (Jn. 17:24). In his prayer to the Father, Jesus feels proud of having brothers and sisters in each one of us. We need to reflect the true identity of God’s children in unity and love. In order to be truly children of God, we take care to nourish our lives with God’s word and sacraments.
UNITY IN LOVE PRESERVES THE CHURCH: Jesus extends his prayer to all people who owe their faith to the apostolic testimony. These people respond to the call to be united with Christ and with the first disciples to form the Church. This unity with God, and within the members of the Church, is a manifestation of the Divine triune unity that is the true model of oneness. Through this unity, the divine presence that binds the Church to God is emphasized. When the Church is preserved in this unity and remains faithful to her destiny entrusted to her by Christ, it witnesses and reveals the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In carrying out this task, the Church keeps burning the fire ignited by Christ; the fire that continuously makes God known. At the end of it all, Jesus prays that the love with which the Father loves him may also be in the world.