In the first contemplation of Jesus’ resurrection from the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius has a most intimate offering. The one making this exercise is guided to watch and listen to Jesus appear to His mother, Mary. She had been with Him at the foot of the Cross; standing faithfully with her own words echoing in her heart, “Let it be done to me.”
Though this scene is not recorded in the Gospels, it does stand to the logic of love. If I were to have written a Gospel, this would have been a wonderful almost wordless event. Perhaps Ignatius transposed such a scene from the verses of today’s First Reading which here take place shortly after the Ascension. For Ignatius, Jesus appears to Mary alone, but here in our reading the Apostles, a group of women, and Mary wait for more promises to be fulfilled. They are in the “upper room;” perhaps the same room in which Jesus began His passion by celebrating the Passover. It is the first gathering of what becomes the Church and Mary is with them.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ praying. This is taken from the last chapter of what is known as the “Last Discourse.” In John’s Gospel there is no mention of the initiation of the Eucharist, instead we have these four chapters in which Jesus tries to set everything straight before His leaving.
In Communication Theory 101, we learn to listen very carefully in an interview or therapy session, to the final minute’s thoughts and feelings. The deepest thoughts and feelings can get crammed into the ritual of leaving. Jesus is leaving.
It can appear that there is a bit of “biblical double-speak” in these verses. This Gospel is to be read slowly, line-by-line. What does Jesus want us to know in these final minutes of His “healing-session” with us? Jesus is one with His Father and sent to tell us that we have some part in that union as well. There is great comfort in these lines if we listen to them, pray with them. To be honest, I am trying not to get into John’s complex Theology which would involve taking almost every word apart. I keep asking myself about where the comfort for mission is in these verses.
There is much divine mutuality in these verses; much giving and receiving. We are included in these interchanges. Jesus is leaving this world and we are in the world, but not left as orphans. We belong to God and Jesus prays over us that we might continue the “glorification.” “Glory” has to do with revelation, that is making God known; this was Jesus’ work which He claims He has done. We are now the “glory” of God. More than mountains, or lightning or any other physical creation, we extend God’s glory so that we will not abandon God. We are how God does not become excluded from time and space. There’s the comfort; there’s the mission. They always attend each other.
Mary and the Apostles and the other women do not remain in the “upper
room” and as Church they become inspired by the Spirit for whom they wait.
These Apostles listening to Jesus in the “upper room” are promised that
they have a relational place in and with Jesus. We are seeing in
these readings an “after” and “before.” The Gospel is the “before”
when the Apostles will leave with Jesus and then leave Jesus. The
“after” is the little Church prayerfully getting ready to leave with the
Spirit Who will never abandon the Church. We are the “now” Church,
ssoon to celebrate the Spirit’s inspirations again next Sunday. This
Sunday we commit ourselves to be the Church making God alive again and
Mary remains faithful echoing her own words again, “Let it be done according
to Your Word.”
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