Since the tribune wanted to know what precise charge the Jews were bringing, he freed Paul and gave orders for a meeting of the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin; then he brought Paul down and stood him in front of them. Now Paul was well aware that one section was made up of Sadducees and the other of Pharisees, so he called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees. It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’ As soon as he said this a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was split between the two parties. For the Sadducees say there is neither resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, while the Pharisees accept all three. The shouting grew louder, and some of the scribes from the Pharisees’ party stood up and protested strongly, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?’ Feeling was running high, and the tribune, afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered his troops to go down and haul him out and bring him into the fortress.
Next night, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.’
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them.
and so that I may be in them.’
You have loved me before the foundation of the world
It is possible that we have heard this before, that “we are a gift from God”. Today’s reading stresses this point, that we are the Father’s gift to Jesus — He says that in today’s gospel. The love which Jesus speaks of can be a little complex. It is enormous and eternal in nature and something that the human mind may not be able to comprehend, nor the human heart hold.
Imagine the tender heart of Jesus when He says that each of us is a gift to him, though he knows our shortcomings and failures and even the parts of our lives which still displeases Him. My brothers and sisters, that is unconditional love.
He loves us so much that He wants to love us as much as the Father loves Him. Isn’t that simply an outstanding sort of love?
Can we, as human parents, wish to love the members in our ministry or our parishioners as much as we love our own children? Do we even desire to share this parental love which we have with others? It is not always easy, but we must try. Regardless of the circumstances, we are children of a Father with such great love that we must try and love at all times.
This, I admit is a struggle for me too. Though I know I am capable of great love, I withhold myself, selfishly choosing who should receive my love and whom I consider as the Father’s gift. That is certainly not the Father’s way of love. As His precious gift, I could and should do way better than this.
Sisters and brothers are loving only those who love us and those who conform to our ideals. Are we able to be an extension of the Father’s love to a world who does not know Him? Are we able to stand up with love together with those who have fallen, even those who refuse to return to the Lord?
How can we be a reflection of God’s love to everyone today?
(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Father, help us to love like you. Set your standard of ‘Love of the Lord’ in our lives, in our families and in this world.
Thanksgiving: Lord I thank you for loving me so very much and for claiming me as a gift to you.