First Reading: Acts 20:17-27
From Miletus Paul had the presbyters
of the Church at Ephesus summoned.
When they came to him, he addressed them,
“You know how I lived among you
the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia.
I served the Lord with all humility
and with the tears and trials that came to me
because of the plots of the Jews,
and I did not at all shrink from telling you
what was for your benefit,
or from teaching you in public or in your homes.
I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks
to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus.
But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem.
What will happen to me there I do not know,
except that in one city after another
the Holy Spirit has been warning me
that imprisonment and hardships await me.
Yet I consider life of no importance to me,
if only I may finish my course
and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus,
to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.
“But now I know that none of you
to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels
will ever see my face again.
And so I solemnly declare to you this day
that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you,
for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.”
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 68:10-11, 20-21
R. (33a) Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.
A bountiful rain you showered down, O God, upon your inheritance;
you restored the land when it languished;
Your flock settled in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy.
R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.
Blessed day by day be the Lord,
who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation.
God is a saving God for us;
the LORD, my Lord, controls the passageways of death.
R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.
Gospel: John 17:1-11A
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come.
Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you,
just as you gave him authority over all people,
so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.
Now this is eternal life,
that they should know you, the only true God,
and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
I glorified you on earth
by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.
Now glorify me, Father, with you,
with the glory that I had with you before the world began.
“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.
They belonged to you, and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
because the words you gave to me I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you,
and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me,
because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours
and everything of yours is mine,
and I have been glorified in them.
And now I will no longer be in the world,
but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”
There are few things I find more comforting in life than having a community of friends who will rise up and pray for me when I need it. The prayers of friends have carried me through some horrific things. And they have also buoyed me in the smaller needs. They have celebrated the good with me, and sustained me in my daily life. They are always a gift, and they are always cherished. My heart is moved when people are willing to stand before God on my behalf.
Today, Saint Paul in the First Reading and Jesus in the Gospel are both saying a sort of goodbye. And both are courageously facing the sufferings, Paul his imprisonment and eventual martyrdom, and Jesus, His passion and death. And both are thinking first and foremost about the people they have laid down their lives to serve.
We hear so often about the goodness of God, and of course we see it action nearly constantly in the person of Jesus. But the idea of Jesus praying for us before the Father? Well, it moves me in my deepest being. What a tender, personal, intimate gift that is. When our Jesus’ thoughts turn to His final moments here on life, he is thinking of us, he is praying for us.
And what He prays is that we will find life in knowing Him and His father. He preemptively believes in us, that we will accept His word and live it. That we will respond to all that He has taught us. And He offers it to the Father as a great and beautiful good. It is what He has to show for His three years of formal ministry, the part of His life He spent proclaiming the Kingdom to us.
We have a God who prays for us. Who comes alongside us like a friend and strengthens us on our spiritual journey. We have a God who believes in us and our belief in Him even before we have proven ourselves to Him.
What a good, good Father He is!
Today, let me bow my head in grateful recognition of His tender love and kind-hearted ways.
Today, let me be a bit more of the follower Jesus believed I would be when He stood before the Father on my behalf.
Today, let His tender mercy give me strength for my journey.
Father, hear His prayer and mine. Amen.
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Pray for someone today, and as you do, think of the great privilege and joy it is to intercede for another. Then remember that Jesus prayed for you, and offer thanks to the Father for such a kind gift.
Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks before and after the birth of a child. Find out more about her here.