VII Sunday of Easter
2 June 2019
We read today a section of John 17 known as the “Priestly Prayer” of Jesus. It is a very profound and significant discourse since it stands at the climax of His ministry for following this prayer is the Passion Narrative of St. John. Many scholars divide this prayer into three parts: 1. He prays for His own glorification 2. He prays for the disciples 3. In this section He prays for unity among all believers in Himself.
Yet, I was struck by something … notice what He says in the very beginning of these verses: “I pray … for those who will believe in me through their word…” The Diocese of Springfield recently (today/yesterday) ordained three men to the priesthood – carrying on in 2019 that unbroken line of succession of those in Holy Orders from the time of the Apostles … could it be that Jesus was praying for believers who would come to faith because of the men who would continue to preach and teach in His name down through time and history? Notice how He continues … “that they may be one as we are one …” Many scholars use this text as their basis for ecumenical dialogue. Nevertheless, he prays that we stand united in faith … you and me … pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, religious men and women … doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, farmers, bankers, managers, cashiers, husbands, wives, children, etc … no matter our state in life, Jesus prays in this, the climax of His ministry, that we be united in faith in Him. This is what strikes me … He prays that no matter who we are, we stand together, we struggle together, we strive to orient ourselves toward communion with God and eternal life – together. And He has given all of us different roles to play in this world, He has called us to different tasks, given us different gifts, created us equally yet different … for this very purpose. There was a time – some of you probably remember – when a priest was put on high pedestal… But the simple fact is this – while the priest carries the role of proclaiming, teaching, administering the sacraments … while he is an “alter Christus” … the priest is still human, he is still a man among others … he is still a believer struggling to get to heaven just like anyone else. We need each other!
You have all heard the expression “It takes a village” … I’m told it is an African proverb – confirmed by Deacon Valentine! Meaning an entire community that interacts with the children of that village, gives that child a place to grow up in a healthy and safe environment. The very same thing could be said about this community. “It takes a parish” for the parishioners to grow in faith, hope and love for God and one another … priest and people we are all children of God, we are all struggling to find our way, and therefore we are all responsible for the health and growth of our parish. This is what I believe it means “to be one” with Christ and with another. How then can you, can I contribute to that oneness?