Thursday, 7th week of Easter
DAILY GOSPEL COMMENTARY:
THE PRIESTLY PRAYER OF JESUS 3.
“That all may be one,as you, Father, are in me and I in you“
Acts 22:30; 23:6–11
The next day, 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 him 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.”
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.’
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.’
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
Or: Alleluia! .
May all be one as you are, Father, and I in you; let the world believe that you sent me, says the Lord.
Gospel of Thursday, 7th week of Easter.
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “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.”
GOSPEL COMMENTARY from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. John (with permission)
20-23 UNITY AS AN ESSENTIAL PROPERTY OF THE CHURCH BASED ON CHRIST’S PRAYER
- Since it is Christ who is praying for the Church his prayer is infallibly effective, and therefore there will always be only one true Church of Jesus Christ.
- Unity is therefore an essential property of the Church. “We believe that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which he prayed is indefectibly one in faith, in worship and in the bond of hierarchical communion” (Paul VI, Creed of the People of God 21).
- Moreover, Christ’s prayer also indicates what the basis of the Church’s unity will be and what effects will follow from it.
- The source from which the unity of the Church flows is the intimate unity of the three divine Persons among whom there is mutual love and self-giving.
- “The Lord Jesus, when praying to the Father ‘that they may all be one . . . even as we are one’ (Jn 17:21.22), has opened up new horizons closed to human reason by implying that there is a certain parallel between the union existing among the divine persons and the union of the Sons of God in truth and love. It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself” (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, 24). The unity of the Church is also grounded on the union of the faithful with Jesus Christ and through him with the Father (v. 23).Thus, the fullness of unity — consummati in unum — is attained through the supernatural grace which comes to us from Christ (cf. Jn 15:5).
- The fruits of the unity of the Church are, on the one hand, the world believing in Christ and in his divine mission (vv. 21, 23); and, on the other, Christians themselves and all men recognizing God’s special love for his faithful, a love which a reflexion of the love of the three Divine Persons for each other.
- And so, Jesus’ prayer embraces all mankind, for all are invited to be friends of God (cf. 1 Tim 2:4). “Thou hast loved them even as thou hast loved me”: this, according to St Thomas Aquinas, “does not mean strict equality of love but similarity and like motivation. It is as if he were saying: the love with which you have loved me is the reason and the cause of your loving them, for, precisely because you love men do you love those who love me” (Commentary on St John, in loc.).
- Besides noting this theological explanation, we should also ponder on how expressively Christ describes his ardent love for men. The entire discourse of the Last Supper gives us a glimpse of the depth of Jesus’ feelings — which infinitely exceeds anything we are capable of experiencing. Once again all we can do is bow down before the mystery of God made man.
20 CHRIST’S PRAYER FOR THE CHURCH AND THE MEANING OF “APOSTOLIC CHURCH”.
- Christ prays for the Church, for all those who, over the course of centuries, will believe in him through the preaching of the Apostles.
- “That divine mission, which was committed by Christ to the Apostles, is destined to last until the end of the world (cf. Mt 28:20), since the Gospel, which they were charged to hand on, is, for the Church, the principle of all its life for all time. For that very reason the Apostles were careful to appoint successors in this hierarchically constituted society” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 20).
- The apostolic origin and basis of the Church is what is termed its “apostolicity”, a special characteristic of the Church which we confess in the Creed.
- Apostolicity consists in the Pope and the Bishops being successors of Peter and the Apostles, holding the authority of the Apostles and proclaiming the same teaching as they did.
- “The sacred synod teaches that the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the Apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ (cf. Lk 10:15)” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 20).
21 THE UNITY, UNIVERSALITY (CATHOLICITY) OF THE CHURCH
- Union of Christians with Christ begets unity among themselves.
- This unity of the Church ultimately redounds to the benefit of all mankind, because since the Church is one and unique, she is seen as a sign raised up for the nations to see, inviting all to believe in Jesus Christ as sent by God come to save all men.
- The Church carries on this mission of salvation through its union with Christ, calling all mankind to join the Church and by so doing to share in union with Christ and the Father.
- The Second Vatican Council, speaking of the principles of ecumenism, links the Church’s unity with her universality:
- “Almost everyone, though in different ways, longs for the one visible Church of God, a Church truly universal and sent forth to the whole world that the world may be converted to the Gospel and so be saved, to the glory of God” (Unitatis redintegratio,1).
- This universality is another characteristic of the Church, technically described as “catholicity”.
- “For many centuries now the Church has been spread throughout the world; and it numbers persons of all races and walks of life. But the universality of the Church does not depend on its geographical distribution, even though this is a visible sign and a motive of credibility. The Church was catholic already at Pentecost: it was born catholic from the wounded heart of Jesus, as a fire which the Holy Spirit enkindled.
- “In the second century the Christians called the Church catholic in order to distinguish it from sects which, using the name of Christ, were betraying his doctrine in one way or another. “We call it catholic’, writes St Cyril, ‘not only because it is spread throughout the world, from one extreme to the other, but because in a universal way and without defect it teaches all the dogmas which men ought to know, of both the visible and the invisible, the celestial and the earthly. Likewise because it draws to true worship all types of men, governors and citizens, the learned and the ignorant. And finally, because it cures and heals all kinds of sins, whether of the soul or of the body, possessing in addition — by whatever name it may be called — all the forms of virtue, in deeds and in words and in every kind of spiritual life’ (Catechesis, 18, 23)” (St. Josemaria, Homily on “Loyalty to the Church”).
- Every Christian should have the same desire for this unity as Jesus Christ expresses in his prayer to the Father.
- “A privileged instrument for participation in pursuit of the unity of all Christians is prayer. Jesus Christ himself left us his extreme desire for unity through prayer to the Father: ‘that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me’ (Jn 17:21).
- “Also the Second Vatican Council strongly recommended to us prayer for the unity of Christians, defining it ‘the soul of the whole ecumenical movement (Unitatis redintegratio, 8). As the soul to the body, so prayer gives life, consistency, spirit, and finality to the ecumenical movement.
- “Prayer puts us, first and foremost, before the Lord, purifies us in intentions, in sentiments, in our heart, and produces that ‘interior conversion’, without which there is no real ecumenism. (cf. Unitatis redintegratio, 7).
- “Prayer, furthermore, reminds us that unity, ultimately, is a gift from God, a gift for which we must ask and for which we must prepare in order that we may be granted it” (St. John Paul II, General Audience, 17 January 1979).
22-23: PARTICIPATION IN GOD’S GLORY IS THE SOURCE OF THE HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS AND OF THE CHURCH.
- Jesus possesses glory, a manifestation of divinity, because he is God, equal to the Father (cf. note on Jn 17:1-5).
- When he says that he is giving his disciples this glory, he is indicating that through grace he makes us partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).
- Glory and justification by grace are very closely united, as we can see from Sacred Scripture: “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:30). The change grace works in Christians makes us ever more like Christ, who is the likeness of the Father (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Heb 1:2-3): by communicating his glory Christ joins the faithful to God by giving them a share in supernatural life, which is the source of the holiness of Christians and of the Church:
- “Now we can understand better how… one of the principal aspects of her holiness is that unity centred on the mystery of the one and triune God. ‘There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all’ (Eph 4:4-6)” (J. Escrivá, Homily on “Loyalty to the Church”).
24 SALVATION OF ALL CHRISTIANS, THE CONCLUSION OF JESUS’ PRIESTLY PRAYER
- Jesus concludes his prayer by asking that all Christians attain the blessedness of heaven.
- The word he uses, “I desire”, not “I pray”, indicates that he is asking for the most important thing of all, for what his Father wants — that all may be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Tim 2:4): which is essentially the mission of the Church — the salvation of souls.
- As long as we are on earth we share in God’s life through knowledge (faith) and love (charity); but only in heaven will we attain the fullness of this supernatural life, when we see God as he is (cf. 1 Jn 3:2), face to face (cf. 1 Cor 13:9-12).
- Therefore, the Church has her sights fixed on eternity, she is eschatological: that is, by having in this world all the resources necessary for teaching God’s truth, for rendering him true worship and communicating the life of grace, she keeps alive people’s hope of attaining the fullness of eternal life:
- “The Church, to which we are all called in Christ Jesus, and in which by the grace of God we acquire holiness, will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things (Acts 3:2 1). At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly reestablished in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; 2 Pet 3:10-13)” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 48).
25-26 OUR PARTICIPATION IN THE DIVINE LIFE WILL REACH ITS CLIMAX IN HEAVEN
- God’s revelation of himself through Christ causes us to begin to share in the divine life, a sharing which will reach its climax in heaven:
- “God alone can give us right and full knowledge of this reality by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose eternal life we are by grace called to share, here below in the obscurity of faith and after death in eternal light” (St. Paul VI, Creed of the People of God).
- Christ has revealed to us all we need to know in order to participate in the mutual love of the divine Persons — primarily, the mystery of who he is and what his mission is and, with that, the mystery of God himself (“I made known to them thy name”), thus fulfilling what he had announced: “No one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt 11:27).
- Christ continues to make known his Father’s love, by means of the Church, in which he is always present: “I am with you always, to the close of the age (Mt 28:20).
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S GOSPEL
TOPIC: What will it take for unity to happen in your group?
“Father, may they be one, so that the world may believe.”
Today’s readings talk about unity.
Christians are supposed to be one but, unfortunately, we are not. When we are divided, it will be difficult to convince people about Jesus. When people see us fighting with each other, they will be turned off. We convince by our example and not by our word.
How can we be one? This only happens when we let the Holy Spirit take over from us.
In St. Paul’s time, the Pharisees and the Sadducees often quarreled bitterly over their religious differences in the Sanhedrin, a 70-member body headed by the High Priest. The Sadducees recognized only the Pentateuch – that is, the first five books of the Bible). They rejected oral tradition, did not believe in the resurrection of the body and of Jesus – for that matter – and the existence of angels and the afterlife. The Pharisees were the opposite. They believed in oral tradition, the resurrection of the body, and the afterlife.
How do you maintain unity in a group? Find out from Fr. Johnny Go, SJ, and from Mark McMinn, author of the book “Why Sin Matters.”
God bless your families. God bless our Catholic faith and Couples for Christ. Bong Arjonillo, CFC International Chairman.
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S 1ST READING
TOPIC: HOW DO YOU APPROACH PEOPLE AND SITUATIONS THAT ARE OPPOSED TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING?
In today’s gospel reading, as part of Jesus’ final prayer to His Father, He asks Him to make the apostles one with Him and with one another. Including yesterday’s reading, Jesus repeats His prayer of unity four times, underscoring what the apostles and we all will face – the forces of evil that will try to keep us disunited.
In the first reading, Paul’s discourse on the resurrection of the body leads to heated arguments between the Pharisees and Sanhedrins – the former in agreement and the latter opposing the idea.
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