Carrying Out One’s Mission
In strikingly parallel ways, both Paul and Christ speak of their mission they have carried out – Christ with absolute certainty, Paul, knowing his limitations, to the best of his abilities. Paul knows that trials are awaiting him, but led by the Holy Spirit who guided his life, he will go ahead, even when he does not know what is awaiting him. Jesus has given the best of himself to make the Father known to all. He prays that they may all be one.
1 Reading: ACTS 20:17-27
From Miletus Paul had the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus summoned. When they came to him, he addressed them, “You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia. I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews, and I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes. I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus. But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace. “But now I know that none of you to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels will ever see my face again. And so I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.”
Responsorial Psalm 68:10-11, 20-21
R. (33a) Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. or: R. Alleluia.
A bountiful rain you showered down, O God, upon your inheritance;
you restored the land when it languished;
Your flock settled in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy. R.
Blessed day by day be the Lord,
who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation.
God is a saving God for us;
the LORD, my Lord, controls the passageways of death. R.
Alleluia: John 14:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will ask the Father
and he will give you another Advocate
to be with you always.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: John 17:1-11a
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.
What is necessary to obtain eternal life? The question is answered in today’s Gospel reading from John. The first requisite is to know the true God. This can only be done in accepting the God revealed through Jesus and to accept him in faith. The second requisite is to accept Christ as God’s son, as the one who has come into the world, not simply as a spiritual presence but as one who has come in the flesh.
The glory of God plays a central role in Jesus’ life and work. In accomplishing the task the Father has given him, Jesus gives glory to the Father. The Father, in turn, acknowledges the Son and with his death and resurrection restores the glory that he had before the creation of the world. The Father, then, is the primary agent of glory. In their accepting Christ and his teaching, God’s glory is now present in the disciples as well. In this acceptance of the work of Jesus, the cycle of glory is complete. Jesus is glorified by both the Father and the believer. The Father is glorified by the Son and the believers. Christ is further glorified in the believing disciples, whose lives give evident testimony to God’s presence in the world.
In today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles, we have the beginning of Paul’s celebrated farewell to the elders of Miletus. He reminds his hearers of the work that has been done. He preached Christ humbly but courageously to both Jew and Gentle. His message was a call to repentance and faith in Jesus as Lord. Now he is about to return to Jerusalem certain only that hardship and trials are before him. He has no sense of shame; he has preached consistently and honestly the full message of Jesus, issuing a call to repentance.
We may never be ashamed of Christ, much less dilute his message to make it more acceptable. Paul did not preach some esoteric mystery cult, but always the full message of Christ. His hearers will never see him again. He takes his leave with the conviction that God’s design has been proclaimed fully and faithfully.
With Jesus and like Paul, may we say with gratitude that we have carried out our task in life, the work God gave us to do, and may God forgive us where we failed. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!