Seventh Sunday of Easter, June 2
Our Union with God Is Defined by Our Relationship with Him; We Are Called to Be One with Him in Mind, Body and Spirit, to Live a Life of Faith and Hope, a Oneness with Jesus Christ.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus praying for His disciples in the Upper Room, a prayer which has been described as His “high priestly prayer”, “Holy Father…I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you.”
And these words were meant not only for those who sat with our Lord at table on Thursday evening before His Passion would begin, but they are also meant for all who would follow His word and embrace His will throughout all the generations of disciples who would follow.
I am sure that each one of us reading this meditation, who is of age, has faced one or more trials in our lifetime – trials which have tried our patience, trials which have tried our love, maybe even trials which have tried our faith in God. Each of us is on a unique journey, laid out just for us – as is repeated in the old adage, “from the womb to the tomb.”
Each of our journeys is different. Each is unique. Each is special. However, no matter from where our individual life’s journey may originate, prayerfully they will all end up at the same destination – God’s Eternal Home!
What helps strengthen us on these various journeys which you and I travel, is the love which fills our very being for those whom we hold dear to our hearts, and the love which they return to us – and also faith in the God and love for the One who created us and loves us beyond all manner of human description.
It is His very Presence in our hearts and souls which strengthens us during the many trials and difficulties which we face throughout our lifetime.
And it is our union with Him, knowing that He is at our side at every moment of our lives, which gives us strength, which makes us feel safe and gives us hope as we travel through our own individual vales of tears here on this side of eternity.
And it is this oneness with God, this intimacy in the relationship which you and I are called to have with the One who has created each of us out of Divine Love, which we find as the guiding element throughout today’s Readings.
In our First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we read about the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr who gave his life for this new belief in the Risen Christ. Stephen was one of the original seven deacons of the early Church. He was chosen to accomplish God’s work in serving the various needs of the early Christian community in Jerusalem.
In Stephen’s case – as it was with the Apostles, the presbyters and the early deacons of this growing Christian faith – what was required of them, oftentimes, was the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life for the good of the Body of Christ, imitating and memorializing, through their own martyrdom, the Holy Sacrifice which Christ Himself made on Calvary.
And the depth of faith which filled Stephen’s heart in Jesus Christ, the intimacy of relationship which he had with his God – were all guiding elements which spoke of his deep and abiding union with the Divine.
And it was his love for God which also spoke of his love for his fellow man, as we hear him exclaim with his dying breath, with the last beat of his heart while they were stoning him, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them…”
Stephen died as Jesus did – falsely accused and brought to an unjust condemnation because he spoke the truth fearlessly! He died with his eyes trustfully fixed on God, and with a prayer of forgiveness on his lips.
You and I are called to live this same depth of faith which Stephen lived. By virtue of our Baptism, we are each called to be Christ’s disciples in the world in which we live today.
Most of us may never be stoned for practicing or proclaiming our faith, but we do face persecution in the cultural war that continues to exist, and is continuously growing worse, between secularism and organized religion!
We know only too well that the prince of this world continues to seduce many of the faithful with materialistic and hedonistic pleasures. We see many embrace the idea of relativism – the thinking that truth is relative, based upon one’s personal philosophy or way of life.
And sadly, this reality has even hit home and affected the Church which we hold so dear, where the truth of purity of heart, mind and body has been lessened in the minds and hearts of some of its faithful as well as some of its ministers.
Losing sight of what is truly important in our lives, failing to keep our eyes focused on the only reality which truly matters – that reality being our intimate union with Jesus Christ – can place our eternal salvation in jeopardy!
As I had mentioned earlier, Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” at the Last Supper – “Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…” – is directed towards all who will come after Him and follow Him as His disciples. In a special way, Jesus prays here for each one of us, both you and me, that as members of His Body, the Church, we would be united in one heart and one mind – as He and His Father are also One.
The unity of Jesus and His Father is truly a unity of mind and heart, a mutual love and trust, honor and respect. Because Jesus loved us first and united us with Himself through Baptism, we, ourselves, are called to live in a unity of love with God and with each other.
Jesus’ prayer on the eve of His ultimate Sacrifice shows the great love and trust He has in His beloved disciples – both then and now. Jesus knew that they would abandon Him in His hour of trial; and He knows that we, too, shall stumble, at times, in our journey of faith along the path which we have chosen to travel.
Yet, just as He entrusted to His first disciples, and those who would follow, the great task of spreading His Most Holy Name throughout the world and unto the end of time, our Lord also entrusts to each of us this same mission – to make Him known and loved in the world in which we live today.
This union with God, this oneness with Christ, can only happen if we first empty from ourselves all that would prevent us from enjoying eternal life – our self-centeredness, our pride and ego, our selfish and lustful thoughts and desires, and so many other vices which cause us to turn our backs on His Love.
And after we remove all those elements of behavior which separate us from His grace, we replace them with an attitude of humility and accepting Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. For it is through humility that we open our hearts to all the other virtues, thereby saying “yes” to our call to discipleship and our intimate union with Him.
It is only when we place Christ first in our lives – it is only when we seek a true and intimate union with His Divine Will, allowing His Spirit to guide us along the path which He lays out for us – that we have no fear or apprehension of the words our Lord speaks to us in our Second Reading from the Book of Revelation –
“Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates.”
Being washed by the Blood of Christ, being one with Him, is more than our reciting a Creed or professing words of faith. Christianity itself is more than some philosophy or ideology. Rather, Christianity and our oneness with Jesus Christ is a way of life; it is a relationship – a meeting between two persons – Jesus and ourself!
Our union with God is defined by our relationship with Him. We are called to be one with Him in mind, body and spirit. We are each called to live a life of faith and hope, a oneness with Jesus Christ.
Such a life defines who we are, and how we stand apart from the world in which we live. For, even though we live in the world, our true home is elsewhere. Even though our physical life is in this world today – in the here and now – our oneness with Christ defines us as not being of the world.
Stephen’s life of faith and his death, which we read about in the Acts of the Apostles, defined who he was as a faithful Christian. His relationship of love with our Lord defined who he was as a child of God. And he embraced that relationship with his dying breath.
May our life of faith – until the very moment when our hearts beat their final beat – define who we are as a Christian people! May our relationship of love with Jesus Christ define who we are as children of God, in the face of a culture of death and a religious denial which surrounds us in the world today!
With heartfelt confidence in God’s Loving Mercy for those who truly call Him “Abba, Father”, may each of us cry out with one voice with the words from the Book of Revelation, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you.” (John 17:20-21)
- “Righteous Father…I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” (John 17:25a, 26)
- “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
- “But [Stephen], filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:55-56)
- “Know that the LORD is God, he made us, we belong to him; we are his people, the flock he shepherds.” (Psalm 100:3)
- “But the kindness of the LORD is from eternity to eternity toward those who fear him, And his justice toward children’s children among those who keep his covenant.” (Psalm 103:17-18)
- “Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates.” (Revelation 22:12-14)
- “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let the hearer say, ‘Come.’ Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water…The one who gives this testimony says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:17, 20)
Prayer for the Day
“Most Holy, Eternal and Divine Spirit,
as we travel through life and experience Your gift of faith,
teach us to recognize the different ways
by which You speak to us in our daily lives.
“Amidst the many distractions of the world,
amidst all the distortions and perversions which exist,
may we never ignore Your Voice
in the ordinary events which we experience daily.
“We humbly pray for Your grace
enabling our hearts to always be opened to Your Holy Presence,
always remaining attuned to Your inspirations and guidance
which lead us to a holy and right relationship with You.
“And may our ears always be opened
to the path upon which You are directing us –
for the sake of our eternal salvation and, most especially,
for the greater honor and glory of Almighty God. Amen.”Anonymous