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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

1st Reading (Acts 22:30;23:6-11): Wishing to determine the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews, the commander freed him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them. Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees, so he called out before the Sanhedrin, «My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead».

When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the group became divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three. A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued, «We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?».

The dispute was so serious that the commander, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst and take him into the compound. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, «Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome».
Responsorial Psalm: 15
R/. Keep me safe, o God; you are my hope.
Keep me, o God, for in you I take refuge; I say to the Lord, «My Lord are you». O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.

I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence; because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 17:21): Alleluia. May they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that the world may believe that you sent me, says the Lord. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Jn 17,20-26): Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not only for these, 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, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that 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. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. 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.”

«I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word»

Fr. Joaquim PETIT Llimona, L.C. (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we find a solid basis for trust in the Gospel: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word...” (Jn 17:20). It is Jesus' heart, which, in the intimacy of Jesus with his disciples, opens up the inexhaustible treasures of His Love. He wants to strengthen their hearts overwhelmed by the sense of farewell that, during the Last Supper, the Master's words and gestures have left them with. It is Jesus' unfailing prayer that goes up to the Father, pleading for them. What a confidence and strength will they find in this prayer throughout their apostolic mission! Amidst all the difficulties and dangers they have to face, this prayer will go all the way with them to become the source where they will find the strength and courage to give the final testimony of their faith with the offering of their own life.

We should let the reality of Jesus' prayer for his disciples to reach our lives, too: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me...” These words travel through time and centuries to attain, with the same intensity they were once said, the hearts of every true believer.

In the living memory of St. John Paul II's visit to Spain back in 2003, we find in his words the echo of Jesus' prayer for his disciples: “With open arms I will hold you all in my heart —said the Pontiff before more than a million people—. The memory of these days will become my prayer as I ask for peace in fraternal coexistence for you all, encouraged by Christian hope that never disappoints.” St. Leo the Great, another Pope far in the past, also made an exhortation that, after many centuries have reached our heart too: “There is no ailing one whom the victory of the cross be denied to, nor there is anyone whom Christ's prayer does not help to. For, if it was so profitable for those who treated him so cruelly, how much more will it not be for those who are converted unto him”.