The Prayer of Jesus

The following homily was given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde on May 28, 2006, the Seventh Sunday of Easter, at St. Michael Church in Pawcatuck, Conn.

If we want to know a human being's deepest thoughts and strongest desires, then we should ask a dying person. The words of Jesus in today's gospel account just proclaimed come from the prayer Jesus prayed at the Last Supper, just hours before His death on the Cross. These words of Jesus — His prayer — reflect to us His deepest thoughts and the strongest desires of His Heart as He was about to die.

As we listen again to His words, we ask: for whom was He praying? He was praying for His disciples, not only those gathered with Him at the Last Supper, but also all those who would follow later. He was praying for us! "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. Keep them from the evil one. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I send them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth."

This prayer of Jesus continues for us because He lives forever and is at the right hand of the Father in heaven pleading for us, praying for us.

As we listen to Jesus' prayer, what is revealed to us and about us? That we are chosen and consecrated by Him for the gospel work of proclaiming the Truth and loving others the way He loves us.

Yes, we are chosen and consecrated, like Matthias in today's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. To be consecrated is to be set aside for God's purpose. Our consecration began at Baptism, when the Lord said to each one of us, "You belong to Me." This consecration was deepened at our Confirmation and is renewed and strengthened at each celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Mass. Daily prayer opens us even more to the power of our consecration and helps us to live this consecration more faithfully.

We are chosen and consecrated — set aside for God's purpose. He sends us forth to proclaim the Truth of His teachings, which are rooted in the Scriptures, given clearer meaning by the Living Tradition of the Church and explained fully by the Teaching Office of the Church. To proclaim the Truth implies our being formed in the Catholic Faith. This formation is life-ling. During this season, we witness First Communions and Confirmations. These are not the end, but rather significant steps or stages in a process that lasts a lifetime. I remind us that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a wonderful summary of what we believe and why we believe what we believe. It is a valuable help to living out our Faith!

We are chosen and consecrated — set aside for God's purpose. He sends us forth to love others the way He loves us. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another." In our second reading, the words about God and love echo what Jesus said at the Last Supper: "This is my commandment: love one another the way I love you." Prayer and faith, if authentic, lead to love; in fact, Christian love is faith in action. This love for others must be expressed as we respond to people's spiritual and physical needs. So, performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy becomes a practical way to make tangible God's love working through us (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2447).

Finally, when we live our consecration proclaiming the truth and loving one another, we foster the unity for which Christ prayed at the Last Supper. The more we believe and the more we love the way He loves, the more one we become in our family, our parish, and our Church.

As Jesus was about to die, He revealed to us the deepest thoughts and strongest desires of His Heart. He desires that we be one in proclaiming the truth and in loving one another. Today, let us renew our consecration to do just that: Proclaim His Truth and love others as He loves us. Amen.

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