Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection 5-25-23

7th week of Easter, Thursday, 5-25-23, Year A
Readings: First Reading Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; Ps 16:1-2a,5,7-11; Gospel Jn 17:20-26
Optional Memorial: Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest, Doctor of the Church
Optional Memorial: Saint Gregory VII, Pope
Optional Memorial: Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin

Theme: Tribulation and Mercy

“Keep me safe, O God, you are my hope.” Our Responsorial Psalm today sums up the readings this week on what it means to trust in Jesus and God the Father. Today’s Gospel reading finishes Jesus’s prayer to the Father for His disciples, in other words, for all of us, over these past three days. (Jn 17:1-26)

As Jesus encouraged St. Paul to continue to witness to Him not only in Jerusalem but in Rome, where he will eventually receive the martyr’s crown, Jesus encourages us with His prayer that He will be with and in us always as He is in the Father and the Father in Him. If we remain true to Him, we will be with Him in heaven forever.

We can take courage in knowing that where Jesus is we will be too someday. Nothing can take that away from us as long as we stay true to His Gospel of faith, hope, and love. St. Paul did not care what happened to him in his life on earth and that nothing, not even his own life mattered compared to his love of Jesus and his desire to share Jesus with others.

We, too, can have a mind set on a life with Jesus that cannot be taken away by anything of this earth, even unto the loss of our life for Jesus’s sake. Persecution in this world is inevitable for all who believe in Jesus because He said it would be so, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first……If they persecute me, they will also persecute you.” (Jn 15:18-21). Knowing this we can take solace in the fact that Jesus also said, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20).

What a gift it is to us that God, Himself, showed His love for us in a prayer for our salvation. Knowing the love God has for us gives us the strength and courage to profess Him in all we do and speak. To live a life in Christ is to live a life of courage under fire and with an undying hope that we will live with Him forever after this pilgrimage on earth. We should all pray that the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Father and Son, will guide and protect us until we meet them in heaven at the end of our journey.

May we follow the examples of St. Bede, St Gregory VII, and St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, whom all suffered persecution for the Gospel of Christ with courage and hope, and know that our sorrows will be turned into joy, alleluia!

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL