Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Ps 16:1-2a, 5, 7-11
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
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.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them.”
Good News Reflection: The sacrament of love
The prayer of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading can be applied to any relationship: any two people, any community. Whatever God has joined is sacred. It’s sacred because it’s a reflection of who God is and how much he loves. This is why marriage is meant to be a sacrament instead of just a civil bond or the incomplete bond of living together like a marriage without the vows.
Lack of commitment and unhealed wounds in any divinely-inspired relationship give the world a sick and faulty image of Christ.
And so Jesus prays: “May they be one, Father. As you are in me and I in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.” Relationships that survive divisive troubles are a visual lesson about God’s unconditional love, which is faithful always, in better times and in the worst of times, in sickness and in health, whether we’re rich or poor, sinning or pure, all the time, no matter what.
In a Christian marriage, the husband lays down his life to serve his wife, and the wife lays down her life to serve her husband, and Jesus lays down his life for both of them. Marriage is a reflection of the Father’s only Son sacrificing his life for his Bride (which is us, i.e., the Church), and the Bride laying down her life (i.e., our lives) to serve Jesus.
The persistent love that spouses and friends and community members have for each other, which never quits no matter what, unites them to the fullness of God’s love. In God, they have the power and the way to overcome whatever threatens to divide them. (I’ve been married to Ralph since 1975; I have experienced the truth of this personally.) If both husband and wife desire to be partners with God in love, they bind themselves to the One who is totally and permanently committed to making it work, and no matter what problems arise, God provides the answers, the healing, and the growth that make the marriage stronger, even when one spouse does not work as hard at it as the other.
By having sacred relationships, we fulfill our calling — the vocation of the “common priesthood” that we all have — to bring Christ to the world. We spread the Good News by showing others that, with the help of God, love never ends and it’s available to all who want it.
What happens to the Sacrament of Marriage when one of the spouses refuses to live sacramentally? Or when one of them dies? Or when a divorced person realizes too late the mistakes and sins they have made? Jesus steps in and becomes their True Spouse. For the person who desires sacramental unity, he is the Sacrament.
In broken relationships, we should lift up the other person to God in prayer to supernaturally create opportunities for a change of spirit and heart.
Each God-ordained relationship is meant to be a gift of love to the world; we are called to be the presence of Christ for the world to see. How terribly wrong, how anti-evangelization it is to neglect or break this gift. May the prayer of Jesus heal our brokenness. Amen!
Beloved Jesus, You prepare the hearts of those who don’t know You yet. May I take Your word to my neighbors in my daily walk, share the love you sowed in our hearts and all together rejoice as one body in You. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica