1st Reading: Acts 20:28-38
At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus: “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the Church of God that he acquired with his own Blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears. And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated. I have never wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions. In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.
Gospel: Jn 17:11b-19
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”
Consecrate them in Truth: The worst experience in human life is the diversion and sabotaging the truth (cf. Act 20:29-30). This has caused wars for families and for the world. Jesus said, the truth will set us free (cf. Jn 8:32), hence, we need to defend it. Consecrate them in the truth (cf. Jn 17:17) and consecration is making someone or something holy and thus being set aside for God. Consequently, the person will do only what God wants, and hate all that God hates (cf. Lev 11:44–45; 1 Pet 1:16). Holiness contains the innermost description of God’s nature (cf. Isa 6:3). This consecration in the truth, is not by force. We are invited to be vigilant, and docile to this consecration. Paul commends his flock to God just as Jesus did. In both prayers, the flock is lifted up to God so that we participate in the innermost nature of God. Can we learn to pray for others to be consecrated in truth?
Prayer: Jesus, give me the grace to imitate you faithfully in practicing all the virtues. Amen.
HOLY FATHER, KEEP THEM IN YOUR NAME! The Aaronic Blessing goes this way, “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Num 6:24-26). The meaning of “keep” in this blessing and in the prayer of Jesus today’s Gospel is related to safe keeping. It means: to protect, to guard, to uphold, to defend; yes, to keep safe. However, Jesus’ prayer has two nuances. He prays that we may be upheld in the name of God. Name, in the Hebrew scriptures, is identical with the person. Secondly, Jesus prays that we his followers may be protected in the presence of God in unity. In other words, we are invited to respond to the protecting presence of God so that we may remain one even as a community.
Prayer: Lord, keep us one!
WE ARE PRECIOUS: The world today attempts to value human dignity in terms of material things. The poor, the unloved, the desperate, the unprotected, the disgraced are everywhere and people have lost sight of their own dignity through neglecting them. The human solidarity that God dreams of the salvific death of Jesus is still distant. The Evil one is at work. See how our Lord is earnestly pleading with his Father to protect the Church against the Evil one threatens the unity of the Christian community! By being consecrated in truth is the way to shield against the Evil one. Paul cautions the Church about those pervert the truth and damage Christian unity. He calls upon us to recall the people who have suffered much in bringing faith to us. It inspires us to value our faith and unity in faith.
WE ARE ONE IN CHRIST: The unity of the Father and the Son is the model of our unity in a world that hates light. This hatred makes Christ offer a special prayer requesting the Father to preserve the chosen ones, who form the Church. He is not requesting that they be taken away from the world since the destiny of this Church is in the world. Despite this worldly location, the Church is warned against falling prey to worldly allures. Jesus prays for the disciples that they be consecrated in truth. These disciples are the priests of the new law. Like the priests of the old law were made holy through consecration, so are the present ones. This apostolic mission reflects Christ’s mission that relied on God’s divine protection. This protection came through the name of Jesus which keeps the human being from sin and destruction. Jesus the protector, therefore, prays seeking to strengthen us and keep us assured of his concern for us. May we be united under His providence that this unity may be reflected in our daily Christian life.