These must have been interesting days in the lives of the early disciples of the Lord. They had barely recovered from the shock of the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus when he appeared to the women at the tomb and to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. For forty days he had been with them, and suddenly, in fulfillment of his words to them he had ascended to the Father, leaving them alone once again. In the gospel we heard the interesting lines of the priestly prayer of Jesus. It is at the end of the evening in the cenacle and Jesus is with his apostles. Before he moves on to his agony in the garden, he offers his last words of advice and then addresses himself to the Father. In this address to his Father he reveals the innermost concerns of his heart more clearly than he ever has done before. The quality and value of this last message is priceless. Here we perceive Jesus’ deepest feelings about humanity. He appeals to the Father to carry out his plan of love. He expresses his desires and how he will carry them out in the history of the human race.
Right from the start Jesus indicates that he is not praying solely for his apostles, for those who were with him during his last meal. He also prays: “for those who still believe in me through their word.” He is praying for all those human beings who will accept his word and recognize him as the Son of God during the course of human history. Thus he is thinking of all of us who now listen to his word. His plea is “that all may be one.” It is as if he sensed that lack of unity would be the great peril for believers, and all the more so when the faith itself was sincere, open hearted and alive.
Next Sunday we will celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. Pentecost will be followed by Trinity Sunday, then the Feast of Corpus Christi before we return to the common Sundays of the year.
Fr John R. Mulvehill