7th Sunday of Easter
The Gospel according to John 17: 1-11
First Reading Acts l: 12-14;
Second Reading Peter 4: 13-16;
Gospel John 17: 1-11.
We’re not very good at saying goodbye, and we’re even worse at saying goodbye happily as we leave our lives on this earth, clinging ferociously to the safe world which we know, sometimes for our own sakes and out of fear of the future, sometimes out of a sense of responsibility for those we are leaving behind, worrying about how they’ll cope.
In John’s Gospel. five chapters, known as the great priestly prayer of Jesus, are devoted to His saying goodbye to His disciples. Today’s Gospel sums up His teaching, as well as His care and concern for their future without Him. His aim is to convince them that His departure is for the best, because only that will release the Holy Spirit Who will empower them to carry the message of eternal life to a waiting world.
Like everyone else, Jesus prays for the things He wants, the things closest to His heart – His apostles, the infant Church and His teaching about a life of service. He places them in the care of His Father, knowing that they would face the same rejection as He had undergone throughout His life.
Two thousand years later, we
haven’t moved on that much: by and large, the world still rejects the message
of Easter and salvation, the prince of this world still hates the King who died
on the cross. But then, as now, Jesus prays for His little flock. He assures
them that they won’t be left alone. His Spirit, the Paraclete, will come upon
them and give them the courage to face the future with confidence, no matter what.
Much like us, the apostles wanted
to remain in their past, secure, times, in their comfort zone with the Master.
Our Easter season is now coming to its end, and we can’t afford to live in the past
either, whether that means that we haven’t really adjusted to present-day life
or we can’t free ourselves from unhappy memories.
Just remembering the past is different, for remembering it helps us to live in and for the present (those with Alzheimer’s disease). The people of Israel remembered the dark times when they had been beyond the help of any human power yet help had come from God. They remembered the Exodus and brought that remembrance into the present with their celebration of the Passover.
At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, a new Passover, but much more than just a remembrance, where reality transforms bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ Himself. And we experience that same reality today whenever once more we can celebrate Mass together.
Instead of being the end chapter, it’s the beginning of a whole new book without any ending!