June 1, 2022
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr
Lectionary: 299

Acts 20:28-38
Psalm 68:29-30, 33-35a, 35bc-36ab
John 17:11b-19

Praying Ordinary Time


Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Rediscovering Corporal Works of Mercy

The "farewell" words of Jesus and Paul in today's readings are really wonderful.  Jesus is addressing his Father, and Paul is saying goodby to the priests of Ephesus.  It is very moving to listen to Jesus pray for us.  It is powerful - almost shocking - that he asks his Father that we might might be as together, as united as he is with his Father.  And, he asks his Father, "keep them in your name, that you have given me."  I suspect that means something like, protect them with the power of your own name.

How is it that we are so far from being "one"?  I don't mean just the major Christian churches.  It just seems that there is so much lack of togetherness and unity - in our university, among great people committed to ministry.  (Paul even warns the Ephesian priests that there'll be trouble in their own ranks.)  But, there are divisions in our families, our parish and faith communities that discourage us.  And, there are the terrible divisions in the world.

When we see unity, togetherness, a genuine one-ness that mirrors the one-ness of the Father and Jesus, it is very powerful and inspiring.  And when we see it, we won't have to look very hard to notice that it is very "not of this world," or "counter-cultural" as might say today. 

Perhaps the desire of Jesus, in his final prayer for us here on earth, can give us hope today.  If it continues to be Jesus' desire that our divisions be healed - and it surely must be - then Jesus will give us the grace we need.  And, the wonder is, that no matter how stubborn or independent or un-cooperative we are, it is our own deepest desire to be one with others.  Many events in our lives may have done some damage to that desire - bruised it pretty badly or hid it away for so long that we are unaccustomed to knowing it - but that desire, to be in communion with others, is deep in our hearts. 

When Jesus says he "consecrates" us in the truth, perhaps he means that there's a sacredness in each of us that is, with the spark of grace, ready to live in the truth of who we are.  The spark of grace is to experience the love Jesus has for us.  He gave his very self for us - forsaking all the options that might have seemed "better for me."  And he did this so that you and I might give our very selves to our marriage, our priesthood, our relationships, our communities, every good we try to do with others.   Consecrated to the truth of who we are - for others, not for ourselves - we can be one - just as Jesus and the Father are one.

Let's all pray to the Father today, in Jesus' name, that we might all be one.  It's a big prayer.  It's a big desire.  It begins at home, with the people closest to us, at work with the people with whom we struggle the most, in relationships that need the greatest healing.  No greater joy awaits us; no mission is more pressing; nothing will change the world more dramatically; nothing responds to the desire of Jesus more completely. 

This reflection, from our archives, was written by Andy Alexander, S.J. in 2003.

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