Gospel Reflections

7th Sunday of Easter

John 17:20-26

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Eileen Cassidy

Published: June 02, 2019

Liturgically, and with the infant Church, we are in a time of transition from Ascension to Pentecost. Anchored in our experience of the Resurrection, we wait with confidence until we have been clothed with the power from on high (Lk 24: 49) so that we will understand more clearly and integrate more consciously into our lives the life and teachings of Jesus. Today’s readings help to shed some light on what this means.

In the first reading (Acts 7:55-60) Stephen’s vision affirms that Jesus, executed as a criminal, has passed through the torn temple veil (Lk 23:45) and is now in the presence of the Holy One. Like the crowds on Good Friday, the people choose another: they lay their cloaks at the feet of Saul, who will initially persecute Jesus’ followers, and they stone Stephen. Like Jesus, Stephen mirrors Jesus’ abandonment to God and his forgiveness of his executioners. He witnesses to Jesus as Jesus witnessed to the Father, and so Jesus’ work of building the kingdom of God continues, though appearing to be further destroyed.

In the Gospel (Jn 17:20-26), Jesus assures his followers that he holds them and those to whom they are missioned before the Father; and his prayer is that all will be one – not just with one another, but with one another-in-him, and with one another-in-him-in-the-Father! What a vision! A vision of humanity-at-one-in-God through and in Jesus. Jesus tells his disciples and us that this is and will always be his yearning and his work. He also tells us that this is what bears true witness to who God is – Unifying Love! In other words, we witness to God by unifying love, and each time this love is shown, God’s kingdom is built and God’s vision is realized.

We know how Jesus did this while on earth and we know what it cost him in terms of recognition by the establishment. We know that it required of the disciples and so requires of us a shift in priorities, even in comparatively significant priorities. We also know that it works, even if our efforts, like those of Jesus, are as much a faith-filled and hope-filled investment in the future as they are a statement of an expectation of immediate realisation.

But how can we ever hope to continue what Jesus began, given our frail humanity? This question must have been in the minds and perhaps even on the lips of the disciples, post-resurrection. Jesus doesn’t tell them how. He simply invites them to wait – and to open themselves to the power of the gift that is already within them, the gift of being in the image and likeness of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit whose role is that of ‘one-ing’ all that is!

As we wait with the first followers of Jesus, let’s pray for those who, like Jesus, Stephen and so many others, live true to their identity at the cost of their lives; let’s be aware of our glorious destiny of glorifying God by being who we are – a single/unified creation; let’s consider the extent to which our priorities reflect those of Jesus; and let’s consciously focus on the ‘one-ing’ Spirit who abides within us and awaits liberation so as to bring together God’s fragmented creation, including ourselves as individuals, into the wonderful diverse unity that is this creation.

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