On Trial For Hope
“Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Romans 15:5-6
In today’s 1st Reading (Acts 22:30, 23:6-11), we find Saint Paul being brought before the Sadducees and the Pharisees simultaneously for what we might in this day and age consider a rather peculiar, almost innocuous charge. For it wasn’t armed robbery, assault or a keenly orchestrated white collar fraud that landed Paul squarely in the hot seat, it was merely his belief in Christ’s Resurrection.
After stating this belief we are told that a great uproar transpired, for the Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection ~ or angels or spirits for that matter ~ whereas the Pharisees acknowledged and believed in all three. For those of you who have ever engaged in a heated discussion on matters pertaining to the spiritual realm, perhaps you can imagine the intensity with which this argument raged.
We are told that Paul was placed into protective custody for his own safety. It is here where he is visited by the Lord, who implores him to “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome." Rome is of course where this great evangelist would ultimately meet his demise. On a day when our nation celebrates the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, it’s important to point out that these brave soldiers, sailors, and airmen did not have the market cornered when it came to valor, bravery and selflessness.
In our Gospel today (John 17:20-26), Jesus offers a prayer not only for those disciples gathered with him at supper, but also for all those who would come after them, taking up their crosses and following Jesus to the Father’s House. He speaks of unity and his desire for his beloved children to practice it, for unity will be crucial in order for the world to come to know both Jesus and the Father through the message of hope that these and all future disciples would band together and profess.
Jesus seeks more than mere “tolerance”
and lukewarm cooperation from the followers of his admittedly fractured and at times downright dysfunctional church. If we were to be honest, we’d have to admit that Jesus’ prayer remains largely unfulfilled. But through our unceasing prayers ~ and His ~ the Sacraments and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we can break down the barriers of hostility and stubbornness that impede our progress.
The hour is drawing near and the stakes are far too high for us to get sidetracked by that which separates and differentiates us. We must unite in our common love for Jesus and all the divine graces that our Lord God pours out upon us.
“Bless us, Oh Divine Father, to find unity with each other, to work together to deliver your word. For we know man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” ~ Amen