Seventh Sunday of Easter
John 17: 20-26

I believe we usually find people trying to be one with others. They rally around something or someone. This is what makes a party a good party. We are all there celebrating the same thing. Last week we had the International Award Dinner or Party sponsored by our Retreat House. This is a yearly event. This year we honored the life and efforts of one of our Friars who is now84 years old and who has been doing wonderful things for a long time. Most of the 300 + people that came knew him pretty well. At present he is still going strong in our African Missions. The people who came all centered on honoring this Friar. There was unity galore and all expressed that the party was a great success.

Athletic teams realize the necessity of unity. I don’t care if you have the best football player in the country on your team, you won’t get too far unless you have team unity, a team effort, supporting your one super player. Parishes, clubs of any kind, schools, families, companies of any sort, all need unity among the members or workers if anything good is going to happen. The same, of course, is true for our Church. Our various rituals, such as the Eucharist, promote this unity. We all do the same things in our churches. We never tire of saying that God is One, even though we say there are three persons in this one God.

Where there is division there is usually one side fighting against the other side. There is a tug of war, not oneness. A good example of this is our two party government. This is supposed to be a good form of democracy, but sometimes I do wonder about it, especially when they disagree just to disagree according to party lines. I sometimes believe we would get a lot further for the common good of the people if there was only one party. But even when one party has the majority, we still don’t fare too well. But that is because there is still division there.

God of unity, in you there is no division. Remain with us, in us, that we may somehow be one as you are one. Help us to constantly think about what we can do to improve unity in our families, parishes, companies, schools, etc., in order to make better progress.

Fr. Howard

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter
John 16: 29-33

In today’s Gospel the disciples tell Jesus they finally understand what he is all about and believe that he came from God. This Gospel takes place before the Passion and Death of Jesus on the Cross. Jesus asks them if they are sure they believe, for soon the time will come when they will scatter in fear when the authorities take Jesus to crucify him. And we know from the Gospels that this is exactly what happened. Then Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit will come to them and reunite them and, amidst all their troubles, they will find peace.

It is amazing the change that came upon the disciples. They went from wimps to giants in no time at the time of Pentecost. Sometimes we, too, become afraid of this or that. I guess this is rather normal for all of us as human beings. But we need not let any of these fears weigh us down or get the better of us. All we need do is bring them to Jesus. While we are weak, he is strong and able to carry our burdens or give us the strength to do so. When we make the decision to turn our will and lives over to Jesus that includes our fears, doubts and confusion too. Jesus is only too willing to take them from us.

Fr. Howard

Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
John 17: 1-11

The verses that make up the Gospel reading for today’s Liturgy are sometimes referred to as the Priestly Prayer of Jesus. They are a prayer, as the opening sentence tells us. And in this prayer Jesus clearly defines the eternal life that we spoke so much about a couple of weeks ago. Eternal life, Jesus tells us, is to know the Father, who is the only true God, and the one sent by God, Jesus the Christ. We are again reminded that repetition is the mother of studies. Repetition helps our focus, and I believe these verses should urge our focus on the Scriptures.

Eternal life is to know the Father and the One the Father sent, Jesus the Christ. The Greek word for “know” is yada and, as we said before, has the connotation of knowing and living the ways of God that we find in the Scriptures. Once again, it should be noted that “knowing” is not an operation solely of the mind or intellect, but mainly of the heart. For the latter, we need the strength and work of the Spirit plus our own efforts and work.

Jesus, abundant life, come to us today through your Spirit and your words.

Fr. Howard

Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
John 17: 11-19

In today’s Gospel, the Priestly Prayer of Jesus continues. He prays for all of us, his followers and disciples, today and every day. He prays for our protection from the world and hopefully from ourselves. Sometimes I think of that old comic strip where Pogo says: We have found the enemy and he is us”. How true.

Right now I can’t think of any forces or powers that I need to be protected from. But I always need to be protected from myself, from my wanting to be in charge and run my own show. When this happens, I forget the way, truth and life – the ways of Jesus – and get into a mess.

Jesus, please be with me today with your prayers of protection from myself and from doing things my own way.

Fr. Howard

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter
John 17: 20-26

The Priestly Prayer of Jesus continues. Today Jesus prays for those who come to know him and the Father through our word. Jesus prays for unity among all his followers. This unity is a unity of love wherein Jesus invites us to share and experience God’s love in the same way he does. In this love we are to continue to reveal God and his love and goodness to the world.

Jesus now ends his Priestly Prayer by pointing out that the world does not know the Father. With his help and strength, let us do all we can by word and example to bring the knowledge of God to our corner of the world.

Fr. Howard

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter, May 21 
John 21: 15-19

Today’s Gospel reading jumps from the 17th chapter of John’s Gospel to chapter 21. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Simon Peter three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And three times Peter responded, “Yes, Lord … you know that I love you.” 

Peter’s triple declaration of his love for Jesus reconciled him with Jesus for his triple denial of the Lord in the garden. Jesus’ triple response to Peter about feeding his sheep commissioned Peter to succeed Jesus as the shepherd of his flock here on earth.

What is my attitude in this modern day concerning the Holy Father and the other Bishops? Are we able to see beyond their human weaknesses? Are we praying for them? I certainly hope we all are.

Fr. Howard

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter
John 21: 20-25

With this Gospel selected to be read for today’s Liturgy, we reach the conclusion of St. John’s Gospel. John tells us in closing that there are many other things Jesus did, but if they were all recorded, the whole world could not contain the books.

Nor are the deeds of Jesus finished because he has ascended to the Father. Each one of us could sit down and write volumes of the good things, the miracles, that Jesus has performed in our lives. The world is full of these marvelous things and everyone has experienced them and will continue to experience them in one form or another. Jesus told us he would not leave us orphans, that he would always be with us, and like all his promises this one is also true. If he were not with us, life would not be worth living.

Fr. Howard

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