James D. McBurney, O.S.A.
Church of Our Mother of Good Counsel
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Acts 7: 55-60
Ps 97: 1-2, 6-7, 9
Rev 22: 12-14, 16-17, 20
John 17: 20-26
In the parish where I work, we often receive newsletters or mailings from non-profit organizations that sometimes include a “wish list.” The wish list varies, depending on the needs of the group. If it is a shelter for the homeless, the wish list could include clothing items or toiletries. Wish lists for other organizations might include office equipment or supplies. Whatever the group or organization, suggestions on a wish list reveal something of the organizations hopes, needs or desires. I suppose as individuals, families, civic or religious organizations, we all have our own wish lists.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus shares something of his wish list as he prepares to face his own suffering and death and his return to the Father. Perhaps we could more accurately describe Jesus’ wish list as a prayer list. In the presence of his disciples, Jesus prays what is known as his High Priestly Prayer. This prayer becomes the conclusion of Jesus’ farewell discourse. His prayer is that all may be one, as he and the Father are one. The oneness he shares with the Father he wishes for his disciples and for us. Further, he prays for all who will come to believe in him through the word and witness of his disciples. “I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Through his words, Jesus reminds the disciples and us that the unity he shares with the Father is not meant to be exclusive for the two of them. His prayer is that all people may be drawn into this uniting love that he, the Father and the Spirit share.
That for which Jesus prayed reveals what was important to him and also gives us a focus for living our lives. Each of us through our baptism is linked to that line of witnesses and believers for whom Jesus prayed. On this Seventh Sunday of Easter and as we prepare in another week to conclude the Easter season with the Feast of Pentecost, it is good for each of us to ponder the consistency of our witness to faith in the risen Lord. How do we strive to witness each day to the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit within us? How do we describe the quality of our love for each other? It is witness to and from others that encourages, gives hope, invites conversion of heart and mind and deepens faith. In the celebration of the Eucharist today, let us pray for the grace to be faithful witnesses of the message of the Gospel. May Jesus’ prayer that we be one inspire and challenge us to work for unity and harmony in the church and in all the relationships that are part of our lives.