Seventh Sunday of Easter
Jesus Prays for His Disciples (B, C)
by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D.
We recognize that the Liturgical Year follows the chronological development of the Church.
We find ourselves now in a particular place between the Feast of the Ascension and the
Feast of Pentecost. In the Feast of the Ascension, we find that
Jesus - Who came into the world to reveal Who the
Father truly is - was unsuccessful in convincing the inner circle of
His twelve disciples all He desired them to know.
I use the word "unsuccessful" because at Jesus'
death there was great Confusion, Fear, and
Doubt. It wasn't until after His death - when
Jesus returned, resurrected, and spent forty (40) days
with the disciples - that the Church began to be formed as a strong community of
They became convinced that Jesus was truly the
Messiah. They began to understand His message. That work of Jesus was a
foretaste of the work of the Spirit. The Spirit, poured down on the
Church at Pentecost, helps us to understand all that
Jesus taught. It's the Spirit that enables us to drink in what we need to know. And it's the
Spirit that enables us to be consecrated, set apart for this work of sharing
God's Life with His people.
The Gospel today speaks of Jesus looking up to Heaven and
praying for the Church. Jesus' language is such
that He asks God for His followers to be
"in the world" but not "of the world".
The strength of a community that is in the world, but not of the
world, is based on principles that are different from the world's principles. We have to understand what
Jesus means when He says "of the
He's not talking about an existence that is outside the confines of the Sacred
Space. He's talking about an attitude the world embraced, a disposition that ended up
rejecting Him. This attitude could be simply
described like this, "I'm on my own. I'm not connected to anything. I'm an insulated, isolated individual
who needs to get as much as I can get because if I don't get it someone else is going to take it away from me".
People caught up in their own rights and needs, instead of feeling they are part of something bigger, exemplify this
attitude. Our challenge as Church is to be in this
world but deeply committed to transforming it. There is a temptation in every church community
to be gathered in an inward circle, finding strength around each other, and a common form of
worship so that everyone feels very comfortable.
We even find ourselves in churches where the people around us come from the same socio-economic
backgrounds, reinforcing our mindsets. And yet there's a danger in being a Church
based only on common likes and dislikes. The True Church, in its full expression,
is not found solely in being turned inward. True Church is found in a community fed by something everyone
understands. A Mutual Source moves the community. That Source is the
Power of Spirit flowing into all of us. Our Church
circle also needs to be directed outward. We need to be interested in the world, caring about it, and desiring to draw others into the
We can't speak of religion without discussing its impact on society. The purpose of religion is for Social Change as well as
Individual Change. The challenge is to understand what Jesus means by saying we will be
"consecrated in the truth". The Gospel passage says
"Your word is truth". What He
means is that, as Church, Jesus invites us to be touched by this
Truth. What is that Truth? The Truth is that
God desires to enter into our lives. He longs to give us a
Strength and a Power that we don't have of ourselves so that we might be able
to be sources of Goodness and Life for other people.
The Truth that Jesus came to share is very simple in some ways.
It's Mysterious in its unfolding, but
fundamentally, it's about human beings gathered around a
Source. This Source is indispensable in terms of living out our destinies. An individual called into
the Life of Christ has a certain Destiny. The challenge is to understand that Destiny so we can fully
Pentecost marks the beginning of the Church.
It's the beginning of the whole process of God's Spirit being poured into people. We can take this
moment in the Liturgical Year to reflect on what it means to be a member of a Church. What does it mean to
be called into this place of dedication? What does it mean to be set apart for this Mysterious work
God has called us to?
As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost next Sunday, let us reflect upon the nature of
Church. The word "Church"
comes from a Greek word that means "to be called out". We desire to be
called out of Negative Things, out of
Slavery into Freedom, from a place of darkness
into the Light. We want to move from Self-Centered lives toward something that
has more meaning and purpose. That work of the Church is based on the Power
of the Spirit. It demands that we gather together in a circle that truly recognizes the
Spirit as the source. As a Catholic Community, we gather around
two things: the Story and the Presence. The Story in Scripture is always reflected upon and broken open. We
try to understand it more fully. And yet we realize that before we leave the room empowered to do the work, we need to pause around the
Altar and gather ourselves into the process of being able to take in the Body
and the Blood of Christ. The Spirit of Jesus animates and enables us to truly
live the message.
Let us pray that all of us grow in our ability and understanding to be truly
consecrated to this Truth.
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