Scripture: Lectionary 299. May 15. Acts 20:28-38. Psalm 68:29-33-35.35.35-36. John 17:11-19:
We see that Paul’s apostolic mission is coming to an end. His martyrdom will not be narrated by Luke in the Acts, but this farewell speech shows that he is aware that his time is limited. Jerusalem and Rome await his coming, but as Martin Dibelius states, “here (at Miletus) in a way, puts the martyr’s crown upon his head.” He is addressing the elders at Ephesus where he spent three and a half years; now as he finishes his work at Miletus we see how deeply he has touched people. “After this discourse, Paul knelt down with them all and prayed. They began to weep without restraint, throwing their arms around him and kissing him. For they were deeply distressed to hear that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.” (Acts 20:36-38). Paul was loved wherever he made converts. He had many friends with whom he worked and preached and ministered. We see in him an apostle for whom Jesus had prayed. We turn now to that prayer of Jesus for the apostles and for us.
Jesus is dedicating and consecrating his friends the apostles for their mission after he ascends to the Father. The word for consecration is associated with a sacrifice made to God that separates one for the mystery of God in saving humankind through the prayers, sufferings, and death of Jesus. Jesus is sharing his own consecration to God and gives them his own spirit of being sent as his apostles. The Evangelist from the beginning has kept us aware that Jesus himself is the Apostle who has been sent by the Father who loved us and the world (the good creation). Jesus keeps identifying himself with the truth, with the life, and with the holiness of his consecration as the Anointed one (the Messiah) of God. Holy is the Name of Jesus.
Jesus prays that the apostles will be protected from the evils of the world due to sin and Satan, the prince of this world. “ I guarded them with the Name which you gave me, and I kept careful watch.” (John 17: 12ab). Dom Ralph Russell, O.S.B. gives us the following comment on the mission of the apostles:”Those with a mission to the world must be in it as leaven and not in ivory towers; but Jesus knows the danger they run and prays they be not infected; ‘from the evil one’ rather than ‘from evil’, since John sees evil not as impersonal but as diabolic in origin (John 12:31; 13:27; 14:30; 16:11; I John 2:13; 5:18f.).”
“ And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.” Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.