Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,
This Sunday marks the end of the Easter season. The emotional "high" and joy that we have been experiencing as the meaning of Jesus' resurrection has gradually sunk in. Jesus has already ascended back to the Father, leaving His apostles alone with Mary to prepare for a new mode of connecting with Jesus. His physical, human touch is being replaced by the unseen power of God the Holy Spirit. The readings show us the great concern of Jesus for the perseverance and unity of the small band He has commissioned to "go out to all the world and proclaim the Good News."
In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus pour out His love for them and for those of us who would come later. He prayed for their strengthening and their courage. He is so concerned that, as yet, they still do not know His relationship with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. He so wishes that they could understand the vibrant, joyful life of heaven. And so He prays for faith for them and for all who will hear the Word, as well as for that unity that will bind the Church on earth to the Church in heaven.
In His farewell address, Jesus also prays for the generations of believers, and for those of us today who live in a Church still under siege. He could see our worries for a Church that is often indifferent to love, and indifferent to His longing for a people at full attention to His offer of mercy for our sinfulness, and full unity with each other in love.
At the same time, we have so many saints among us. As there were martyrs soon after Pentecost like Stephen (in the first reading), so too, there are millions since then who have "washed their robes so as to have a right to the tree of life." Our own past one hundred years have produced more martyrs for the faith than all the preceding centuries of Christianity put together.
In this last Sunday before Pentecost, may we take courage in the vision of Stephen, then the vision of John in the Apocalypse, and finally the great vision of Jesus Himself, of a world at peace, living in unity and love.
May we often pray the prayer of Jesus:
"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."
Father Ed Bakker,
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania