|Seventh Sunday of Easter
And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I turn to you as you turned to the Father. Protect me and guard me. Help me to be open to your word in Scripture and in my everyday life. Grant me your grace so I can turn to you to seek truth, rather than the empty promises of the world.
- Keep Them in Your Name: Jesus invited his disciples to a new Passover where he instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood. In the Gospel of John, the Last Supper was celebrated on the night before the celebration of the Jewish Passover, marking this meal as a New Covenant in Jesus’s Body and Blood. At the first Mass, where the matzo and wine were transformed into his flesh and blood, Jesus also installed his disciples as his first priests. They were to begin their mission after Jesus went to the Father. He “protected” and “guarded” them as his chosen brethren. Jesus is the High Priest, and the one “who prays for us is also the one who prays in us and the God who hears our prayer” (CCC 2749). When Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper, “Jesus [also] became the guarantee of an [even] better covenant. Those priests were many because they were prevented by death from remaining in office, but he, because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away” (Hebrews 7:22-24).
- I Sent Them Into the World: The disciples would not have an easy path as the first priests of the New Covenant. Called to imitate Christ, the disciples would need an infusion of divine grace, and Jesus prayed to the Father to ask for protection and fidelity to the “word” of God. Jesus is the Word incarnate, the divine revelation handed to the early Church. The disciples saw his human nature; they knew he laughed, had splinters, sleepless nights, and long days. But what was revealed to them at the Last Supper was his relationship with the Father, his heart-to-heart Father-Son filiation, his deep and anxious care for his disciples, and his desire for them to share in the communion of love available to each soul who desires to love God with his whole heart.
- Consecrated in Truth: Christ prayed that the priests of the New Covenant be consecrated in truth, set apart for a holy purpose. Just as the bread and wine are consecrated in the Eucharistic prayer at Mass, so the priest himself is transformed during ordination to become alter Christus, another Christ. “As an alter Christus, the priest is profoundly united to the Word of the Father who, in becoming incarnate, took the form of a servant… Because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of all people: he is the minister of their salvation, their happiness and their authentic liberation, developing, in this gradual assumption of Christ’s will, in prayer, in ‘being heart to heart’ with him” (Benedict XVI, June 24, 2009). Rather than being elevated by priestly consecration, ordination defines priests as the servants of all, and at the service of the Church. The hands of the priest are anointed with chrism oil by the bishop as he prays, “That whatever they bless may be blessed, and whatever they consecrate may be consecrated in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The hands of the priest will consecrate bread and wine, anoint, baptize, and absolve, carrying on the action of Christ in the world.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you are the Lord of my heart. You have called me to serve others out of love for you. Help me to discover this call to service more deeply in myself, so that, in imitating you, I may grow in my love of God the Father.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will perform some act of service out of love for you.
For Further Reflection: From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy, and the Crisis of the Catholic Church.
Leah Nguyen, mom to six children ranging in age from nine to twenty-four, resides in Kansas City with her deacon husband. She graduated with a master’s degree in theology from Holy Apostles College in 2019, which helps her lead Bible studies in her parish as well as defend the Catholic faith when talking with her teenagers.
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