Acts 22:30-23:6-11; Ps 16:1-2a,5,7-11; Jn 17:20-26
It is the confident prayer of believers in every age that is our response to the first reading. The Psalm invites trust in the Lord God Almighty praying, “with God at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.” Such confidence is a total experience, the heart is glad and the body rejoices because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption. It was this kind of loving confidence that kept Saint Paul from abandoning his missionary life. It was this same loving confidence that the Lord Jesus prayed for his fragile flock before he was lifted up in glory on the cross. This is our confidence in the face of rejection and persecution by the world.
Like the Lord Jesus before him Saint Paul is summoned before the Sanhedrin. Unlike the Lord Jesus though, Saint Paul uses the religious division between the Sadducees and the Pharisees to his advantage. Because there was no unity among the Jewish leaders they were ineffective. They could not unite to condemn Saint Paul because there were some who were with him and others who were against him. When he stated, “I find myself on trial now because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead,” he started a dispute that erupted into a loud uproar. The Roman Commander sent in his troops to protect Saint Paul, a Roman citizen, from the deadly riot. Even after such a harrowing experience Saint Paul put his trust in the Lord Jesus who encouraged him and challenged him to greater glory by this message: keep up your courage! Just as you have given testimony to me here in Jerusalem, so must you do in Rome.
Throughout his life, the Lord Jesus gave witness to the Father; he revealed the glory of God with complete confidence. Jesus was not afraid to reveal the Father and his disciples were not afraid to accept that revelation. Just before he was to be lifted up on the cross the Lord Jesus prayed for his disciples and for all of us who would come to believe in him through their witness. The Lord Jesus prayed that his present and future disciples would share in the oneness between him and the Father: I pray that they may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. The Lord Jesus asks his Father to give us the glory that you gave me that they may be one, as we are one–I living in them, you living in me–that their unity may be complete. Our sharing in this glory is not just for our own delight; it is to enable the world to believe. No wonder then, that the early Church Fathers would call that glory by a new name. It’s no surprise that these early authors called this glory the Holy Spirit. Without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit we cannot share in the love and life of the Father and the Son. In obedience, we now await the gift of power from on high–the gift of the Holy Spirit. Each Eucharist we receive that power so that we can taste and see the goodness of God in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Such an outpouring of divine love and life makes us one with the Father and the Son–sharing in their glory not only for our own sakes, but that the whole world might come to believe. Such is our mission as we stay in the world even though we are not of the world. In a world, so divided and so destructive the oneness of the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in us is a startling witness. Indeed, the glory we share shatters the walls of hopelessness separating peoples and nations.