Sunday of the 7th Week of Easter
May 20

The Gospel selection for today contains what has come to be called the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus. It is a prayer for unity. The Father, Son and Spirit are one, and hopefully this same unity will be experienced by us. I believe that we have a long way to go to achieve this hoped-for oneness with each other. I see enormous effort being put forth toward achieving a greater unity, but it only takes a few to thwart the efforts of the many. It is difficult not to give into frustration.

As usual, this whole process of change begins with individuals, not whole nations. Individuals make up the nations and that is where we must begin, one by one. I must look at my life today and see how I can make this unity more of a reality in my own life. My hatreds, jealousy, prejudices must stop. This can begin by a simple “good morning,” “how are you today?” It can begin by holding a door open for someone I don’t care for, by standing when a woman enters a room, by surrendering your seat on a bus for someone else. It is the little things that start this ball of unity rolling.

Personally, as a priest, I hear a lot of people saying that they are jealous and envious of others. Other people have this and this and this and I don’t. Other people can do this and this and I can’t. In my opinion, jealousy and envy are a useless waste of time, because no matter how hard I try, no matter how hard I wish, I will never be that other person. I will never be able to be what they are or do what they do.

In Alcoholics Anonymous we are taught to try and develop an “attitude of gratitude,” a habit of saying three little worlds: Thank you God. I believe this simple, little attitude can go a long way in starting us on the way to unity. I must thank God for my neighbor and all they do to make my life better. I must thank God for giving them their gifts and talents that hopefully they will use for my benefit. I will thank God daily for my own gifts and talents that I am able to use to serve others.

We are all unique human beings. We are all destined by God to help each other, to respect each other, to thank each other, to affirm each other. This can begin today in our own families, in our work places, in our schools, in our parishes, wherever. This is certainly one way for unity to begin in our corner of the world.

Jesus, help us to be one.

Fr. Howard

Monday of the 7th Week of Easter 
May 21

“I have overcome the world.”

These words of Jesus in today’s Gospel selection should fill us with faith and trust in Jesus’ word. Good has overcome evil. This is the basic message of all the scriptures. One would think it would be easy to follow Jesus knowing that he has overcome the forces and temptations of the world. We should be able to place our trust in this and follow Jesus and his way and truth all the way. But Jesus knew his disciples. He knew they would scatter and leave him alone when it came time for him to suffer and die, when it seemed the ways of the world had triumphed over him.

Jesus knows that we, too, will scatter when the attractions of the world seem to overcome, to rival his way. Human beings tend to follow the winner. There are people who watch Tiger Woods on TV whenever he is playing golf in a tournament. Many of them don’t know a golf ball from a pineapple, but Tiger is a winner and so they follow him.

When we see greed, violence, freedom without responsibility, the abuse of power in our world, drugs, alcohol, and whatever else seemingly appear as winners, we follow them too. And when we finally realize we have made a mistake, hopefully we come back to Jesus. And sometimes this coming back, this return to Jesus, takes a while.

Jesus, help me to recognize my mistake quickly when I prefer the ways and the seeming winners of the world over your way, truth and life.

Fr. Howard

Tuesday of the 7th Week of Easter 
May 22

“I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.”

Jesus’ mission, work, is finished. And only he could make the unqualified statement to the Father that he had freely and completely accomplished the work his Father had given him to do.

What work has the Father given each of us to do? What does the Father want me to accomplish? We have to look at our calling, where we are in our life, who we are. No matter if I am a husband or a wife, a mother or father, a priest, a single adult, a college student, a child at home and in school — all of us have something to accomplish, all of us have a purpose, all have our duties and obligations and responsibilities to perform. It is up to each of us to reflect on what we are to be about, what we are to accomplish. What do I perceive to be God’s will for me now? Am I trying my best to accomplish this?

Jesus, give me the strength to do what you want me to do today, to be what you want me to be today.

Fr. Howard

Wednesday of the 7th Week of Easter 
May 23

In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus prays for his disciples before he goes to the Father. This is his farewell prayer for his disciples and the scene is the Last Supper. We are all included in this prayer. Jesus is praying in this Gospel for you and for me.

He prays that we all may be consecrated in the Father’s truth that he came to teach us. To be consecrated means to be set aside for a holy purpose. God’s word, God’s truth, is what will make the human race whole, complete, happy, fulfilled — in a word, holy. We are all set aside to carry this truth, this word, to all the world and thereby achieve our own wholeness, completeness, holiness.

We are all consecrated in Baptism and Confirmation. I wonder how often we think of this and think of what a special people we are! To have the mission of spreading God’s word and truth is the highest, most honored mission we could possibly have. And this is our mission.

Jesus, help us to realize our specialness in your plan of salvation.

Fr. Howard

Thursday of the 7th Week of Easter 
May 24

Jesus’ priestly prayer continues in the Gospel selected for today. Jesus prays for us. He calls us the Father’s gift to himself. And he prays, “I wish that where I am they also may be with me.”

One of the things I truly believe is that there is life after our earthly death. No one will ever convince me that there isn’t. And I am certainly not the only one who believes this. Just what it is and where it is, though, remains a mystery. The Scriptures tell us that eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it even entered into the human mind what God has prepared for those who love him.

Having experienced death for a time from a heart attack when I was 52 years old (they brought me back with the defibrillators), I have lost a lot of the fear of dying and in my older age am getting more and more curious about what it is that God has prepared for us. The prayer of Jesus that we will be where he is and be with him is perhaps an insight into the life to come. Jesus would just have to be part of it somehow.

Lord, we all like to be prayed for. It is the greatest gift one can give to another. Thank you for your prayer for us.

Fr. Howard

Friday of the 7th Week of Easter 
May 25

Not too awfully long ago, we commented on this Gospel and I believe I referred to it as a Gospel of love and forgiveness. We all remember Peter’s triple denial of Jesus in the courtyard during the Passion of the Lord.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds Peter of his denials, as if he needed any reminding. Peter loved Jesus so much and must have grieved day and night for these denials. We are told he went outside and wept bitterly. I am sure his tears washed away his guilt. Jesus, the compassionate One, knew Peter loved him and wanted Peter to affirm to him just how much he loved Jesus. Hence, the triple, “Peter, do you love me?” One for each denial. Jesus, then, after forgiving Peter, invited him back into his company. “Follow me,” he said, just as he had said when we first met Peter. Peter’s sin ceases to have existence. He is back in the arms of his beloved Jesus!

Lord, I have sinned so much and so often and denied you many times. Thank you for your forgiveness and for continuing to ask me to follow you despite my denials.

Fr. Howard

Saturday of the 7th Week of Easter
May 26

The Apostles, being human beings, compared themselves one to the other. James and John looked around and decided they were the ones to sit, one at the right, the other at the left of Jesus in his Kingdom. In today’s Gospel, Peter is overly concerned about what is going on in John’s life. Jesus tells him to mind his own business.

We have said before that it is a waste of time to compare ourselves to others. And when we do this, it seems we always come out on the short end of the stick. They have this and I don’t. They can do this and I can’t. The truth of the matter is that they will always have things I don’t have and be able to do things I can’t do. So what!

This is how God meant things to be. God created us all with unique gifts and talents, meant to be used to serve each other. One can do what another cannot and vice versa. When we all use our gifts for each other, we all benefit because someone else can do for me what I cannot do. I can’t bake those delicious rolls that show up all the time on the breakfast table. And the one who baked them can’t do many of the things that I can do for them. We are meant to help one another. This is what makes the world go around.

Jesus, thank you for my many gifts and talents. Help me to use them in the service of others and help them use theirs for me.

Fr. Howard

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