“Don’t suffer for being a malefactor.”
There is glory, says St. Peter, in suffering for Christ (today’s second reading). There is only shame if we suffer because of our own misdeeds: “See to it, that none of you suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a malefactor, or a destroyer of another’s rights.”
Back in 1951, newspaper columnist Victor Reisel was noted for his courageous exposure of racketeers in labor organizations. He so infuriated the racketeers that they finally called in a young hoodlum named Abraham Telvi and offered him $1,000 to throw acid in Reisel’s face so as to blind him and scare him off.
Telvi accepted the commission, studied the columnist’s habits, and finally found a way of coming into his presence. He threw the acid and made a successful escape.
The acid had indeed been on target. Reisel lost his sight, though not completely. But the attack only encouraged him to step up his battle against the mobsters; and the nation, appalled by what had happened to him, paid even closer attention to the cause he was fighting for.
And what of Telvi? Unfortunately for him, in throwing the acid that had harmed his victim’s eyes, he had splashed some of it on his own face. It caused a permanent scar, not only harming his looks, but branding him with a mark that the police, who were still in search of him, might well use to identify him. If he was caught, the mobsters realized, he would probably finger his employers. There was, then, only one remedy. They engaged another assassin to shoot Telvi in the head and kill him.
The hoodlum had thus suffered the loss of his own life – always a tragedy. But there was irony in the fact that he lost far more by his crime than he gained by it. He died as “a destroyer of another’s rights.”
A reminder, isn’t it, that whenever we do willing injury to others, we inflict still greater injury upon ourselves?
– Father Robert F. McNamara
Q318: Today’s gospel (Jn 17:1-11) shows Jesus praying to his Father, saying that he had “passed on” to them the message the Father had entrusted to Jesus. What does that mean to us today?
In verse 6 Jesus prays, “They have kept your word.” This means that even though the apostles had very limited understanding before Pentecost and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they remained obediently faithful to the teachings of Jesus. Because of their obedience to Jesus and faithfulness to His word, they now have been delegated the responsibility to continue the mission of Jesus.
Just prior to that, in verse 4, Jesus tells his Father that he has “glorified” Him by carrying out his mission, obeying the will of the Father. “Glory” is the manifestation of the divine presence; so wherever the will of God is carried out, He receives Glory (= His presence is made visible).
Now we, as baptized Christians, have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. So now we, too, have the same responsibility to carry out the will of the Father, as Jesus taught us. This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly, because although “glory” seems to indicate awesome power and majesty, it does not exclude the possibility of suffering. The Second Reading makes that very clear, when Peter says (1 Pet 4:16) that Christians give glory to God when they suffer for just being Christians (i.e., living lives in accordance with God’s will). So give glory to God (= make God’s presence visible through you) at all times!
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! When we pray daily The Lord’s Prayer that the Father’s will be done, are we looking “within” or just “out there” (CCC#2750)? We have been given the Spirit of Glory to empower us to reveal Jesus through the way we live our lives (CCC#693). This is the “time of the Spirit” which may entail suffering for following Jesus (CCC#672). Are you faithfully obedient to the teachings of the Bishops, successors of the Apostles?
And They Devoted Themselves to Prayer
This Sunday is kind of betwixt and between, coming as it does between the Ascension and Pentecost. The disciples were puzzled; they had been shaken by Jesus’ crucifixion and death, then delighted by his resurrection. Now they were confused and puzzled as he had left them again. Sometimes we are like that, caught between the “already” and the “not yet.” We have experienced the Lord’s presence in baptism and the other sacraments, but at times we more conscious of his absence. What do we do then? He had been taken up and the disciples returned to Jerusalem where Luke tells us they did noting but pray! We find that hard to take. We want to get up and get going and do something. But today we are reminded that when it comes to the work of God, we may have to wait and pray, otherwise, we may not be following the Holy Spirit. Like the disciples we need to pray for the Spirit if we are to carry out his mission fruitfully.
Lord God, you promised not to leave us as orphans, but to remain with us always. Be with us in our confusion and disappointments, when we do not know what to do. Grant that we may hear and answer your call to prayer; let us pray for the gifts of the Spirit to enable us to carry on your work.