Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter, May 20
Jesus’ Deep and Abiding Love and Support Can Serve to Encourage Us When We Falter in Life, Enabling Us to Live Our Faith and to Love As God Loves Us.
“Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.” – the antiphon which we read in today’s Responsorial Psalm – a prayer which helps each of us to stay focused on what should truly be the most important element in our daily walk of faith in all that we experience throughout life.
We are each given a unique and distinctive journey through life. No two people share the exact same elements and details of all that we individually experience. There may be similarities in what we share, but it is the differences and how we react to them which affect our lives and which help develop who we are as an individual person.
However, as I had mentioned in a previous meditation, no matter from where our individual journeys may originate or what we may experience in the day-to-day events of our lives, prayerfully our journeys 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 share in return – and also faith in the God and love for the One who created us and who loves us beyond all human description or understanding.
It is the very Presence of His Spirit within our hearts and souls which strengthens us during the many trials and difficulties which we face throughout our lifetime.
And it is this faith which fills our hearts which gives us hope, especially when we may find ourselves, at times, traveling through a very deep and dark valley of tears. And it is this hope in the God who loves us which is the guiding element throughout today’s Scripture Readings.
In our First Reading, Paul is standing on trial before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, and there arose a great commotion between the Pharisees who believed in the resurrection and the Sadducees who did not. It became such a hotly contested debate that the Roman commander ordered his troops to take Paul away for his own protection.
It was that very night that our Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”
In our Responsorial for today, the psalmist, who is believed to be King David, empties himself – emotionally removing from himself all that would separate himself from the Creator – in order to fill his heart with an abiding and steadfast love for his God, when he says, “I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.” And we respond with the verse, “Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.” – words which evoke feelings of both hope and trust.
And in today’s Gospel, Jesus is finishing what is described as His “high priestly prayer”, for it is a prayer of intercession to His Father for the needs and protection of His disciples then, and His disciples throughout the ages yet to come.
It is also a prayer of great trust in His Father’s Loving Mercy, for it is our Lord’s earnest hope, His earnest desire that, as He says, “…where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
And Jesus finishes His prayer with these words, “…that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”
When one takes his or her time and meditates on our Lord’s special prayer of intercession, which comprises the entire seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel, one cannot help but be amazed at the beauty and the depth of our Lord’s Love for His Apostles, and the complete trust which He places in His Father’s Love!
“O God, you are my hope.” – In essence, this is what Jesus is praying to His Father. This is what David is praying in today’s psalm. And this is what our Lord is telling Paul when He tells him to “Take courage”.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists the word “hope” one hundred and eighteen times. I am not going to burden us with everything it says about hope, but I would like for us to reflect upon one sentence:
“Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.” (§ 1817).
In the letter to the Hebrews, the author writes, “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.”
Each of us hopes in the glory of Heaven, promised by God to those who love Him and do His will. It is for this reason that, no matter what roads or pathways we may take in this life, no matter what vocation in life we may embrace, it is truly the destination upon which we set our hearts – a destination for which we all hope, for which we all yearn, for which we all pray!
In My Daily Bread, which is a meditation manual designed to take the reader through the various stages of spiritual growth, it teaches us that the virtue of hope helps men and women to continue to strive for perfection in this earthly life, a virtue which we may never be able to completely attain because of our inherent human weaknesses.
But it does help us to continue in this process of personal perfection, so that we may grow spiritually, and it also helps us to grow in our personal relationship with our God.
Ultimately, it is not this life which rewards us for these efforts. Rather, it is the promise of Christ – the promise of eternal life – for which we strive and for which we hope and yearn and pray.
In Paul’s Letter to the Romans, he writes “…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
In every circumstance of life, each of us should always hope, with the grace of God, to persevere to the end and to obtain the joy of Heaven, which is God’s eternal reward for the good works we accomplish in this life, through the various gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.
As we travel this journey in life through all the ups and down we shall experience, we can take solace from Jesus’ prayer to His Father in the Gospel: “Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me…”
This deep and abiding love and support which Jesus has for each of us can serve to encourage us when we falter during those moments in our lives when we fail to live our faith and to love as God loves us.
It is at such times that today’s antiphon can become our own mantra in life, lifting our spirits, encouraging us, strengthening us – “Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.”
God truly is our sole Refuge in life! †
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
- “The following night the Lord stood by [Paul] and said, ‘Take courage.’” (Acts 23:11a)
- “I keep the LORD always before me; with him at my right hand I shall never be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)
- “Father, they are your gift to me. I wish where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)
- “…that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” (John 17:26b)
- “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.” (Hebrews 10:23)
- “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
- “But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)
- “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress.” (Psalm 46:2)
- “They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
- “Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge…you are my Lord, you are my only good.” (Psalm 16:1, 2bc)
Prayer for the Day
“Come, all you lovely things of Earth,Saint Faustina (Diary, §§ 1750-51)
Which man does not cease to wonder at.
Come, adore God in your harmony,
Glorifying God’s inconceivable Mercy.
“Come, indelible beauty of all the Earth,
And, with great humility, adore your Creator,
For all things are locked in His Mercy,
With one mighty voice all things cry out:
How great is the Mercy of God!
“But above all these beauties,
A more pleasing praise to God
Is a soul innocent and filled with childlike trust,
Which, through grace, is closely bound to Him.
“O Jesus, concealed in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar,
My only Love and Mercy,
I commend to You all the needs of my body and soul.
You can help me, because You are Mercy itself.
In You lies all my hope.”