Scripture: 1st Reading: Acts20,17-27; Resp. Psalm: Ps68,10-11,20-21; Gosp. Accl.: Jn14,16; Gospel: Jn17,1-11
What is the value of our lives? What value do we attach to who we are? What is the price tag on our dignity, self worth, name? How jealously do we cultivate what we call "ourselves" and do all to protect it? How precious do we regard and thus hold on to our corporeal existence?
The history of the Christian religion is replete with radical individuals who were totally on fire with Jesus that they forgot themselves. For these individuals, their meeting with Christ ended their encounter with themselves their ego and self worth. When they met Christ, they forgot their "names"! They forgot who they were. They became nothing but a stubble; Christ Jesus became all and everything.
Paul of Tarsus was such a believer. In the first Reading today, Paul testified about himself. Not many Christians today can make those stupendous claims made by Paul. This great lover of Jesus testified that he served the Lord with humility and tears and with trials. He made the elders of Ephesus aware of the fact that he declared to the people everything that was profitable.
Paul said he taught in public from house to house, testifying to all about their need for repentance before God and their need to have faith in Christ Jesus. Even the knowledge that imprisonment and afflictions awaited him in Jerusalem did nothing to deter this great Apostle from going on to Jerusalem.
Paul said he accounted his life as having no value or precious, if only he could accomplish his course and the ministry which he received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Paul finally declared that he had told them everything he needed to tell them and that he was innocent of anyone's blood if that person refused to heed the word since he had done his own part. This was Paul's last will and testament to the Ephesians.
What an amazing witness of life, of real life! What a total forgetfulness of self. What an uncompromising dedication to Christ that leaves no room for equivocations, doubts and second thoughts. What a life of blessedness that has continued to be a massive challenge to generations of believers.
The words of our Lord today in his priestly prayer and farewell discourse apply succinctly to the life of the great Paul. Paul knew the true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. Just as Christ glorified His Father on earth by the manner of His life, Paul His unworthy servant did the same.
Paul manifested God's name to those that Jesus gave to him. Through Paul, they kept the word of Jesus and that of His Father. Through Paul, they came to believe that Jesus came from God the Father and that God indeed sent Him. Through Paul, the life of Jesus and the salvation He brought were made available to the Ephesians and countless others. What a beautiful life!
This is the life we are all called to: to be the beacons of Christ to the world; to be the signs of contradiction; to manifest to the world the radicality of following Jesus; to show to the world what real life entails; to be true witnesses to the world about the supernatural value and unsurpassing beauty of total dedication of one's life and self to God.
The Holy Spirit will lead us to do this. The Holy Spirit will give us the persevering courage to endure in giving true witnessing to the Lord. This is why we need His presence to renew us for the mission the Lord has entrusted to us. "Come Holy Spirit, fill gheoyhg hearts of the faithful and kindle in us the fire of your divine love. Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and we shall be created, and Thou Lord shall renew the face of the earth."
Let us pray: "Grant, we pray, almighty and merciful God, that the Holy Spirit, coming near and dwelling graciously within us, may make of us a perfect temple of his glory." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.