May 25, 2023
by Tom Quinn
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Lectionary: 300  

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Psalm 16:1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
John 16:12-15

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Judging Others? Or Ourselves?

The seven weeks that draw double alleluias from us, the glorious Easter season, is ending. We already have rejoiced at the resurrection of Jesus, and we have celebrated the Ascension. As we await Pentecost and ponder the wonders and gifts that God has showered upon us, we read in Acts 22 and 23 of St. Paul’s continuing perils as he spreads God’s message. Paul’s status as a Roman citizen and a Pharisee by birth, coupled with the intervention of a Roman Commander, saved Paul from being “torn to pieces” by a group of Sadducees who opposed his beliefs. Violence ensued, and Paul was ostensibly saved by the action of the Roman. God, we are reminded, often moves in marvelous and mysterious ways. Acts tells us of the many dangers experienced by the early Apostles. Spreading the word by oration and action at the continual risk of losing their lives is truly inspiring. Luke tells us that Jesus came to Paul during this time and stood by his shoulder. “Courage,” he said. Paul would need that. Preaching in Jerusalem was dangerous, but Jesus knew that Paul’s work in Rome would lead to his death. Yet he persisted. We surely need to be willing to have this faith. Faith for which so many died. We do need to pray “keep me safe, O God, you are my hope.” Alleluia alleluia.

What was it that motivated Paul so intensely that he would lay down his life? The gospel (Jn 17:20-26) today may answer this question for us. Jesus prays to the Father for the Apostles and those who follow their words. He prayed that many would come to know Him and would be one with Him. Jesus prayed “ you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also be in us.” We have been told that Jesus loves us. We are the Father’s gift to Jesus, and he wants us to share in the peace, love, and glory of God. Paul’s writing and encouragement, sometimes from prison, shows that he was willing to give his life for his faith. I hope that I (we) will never have to face this test of faith. “Keep us safe, O God,” the alleluia prayer comes to my mind again. What can we do, Lord? Guide us on our way. Stand at our shoulder and give us the courage, literally the heart, to persist. Give us strength.

This gospel makes me glad, and I rejoice in it. I pray for this: I try to imagine what Jesus is offering us. Eternal love, peace, union with God, Freedom from the fetters of humanness? Who can comprehend being one with God? No one living can answer this. The ultimate gift of God may be that someday we will be worthy, open-minded, and ready to experience true union with God. We will then certainly receive the answer.

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