(In many dioceses, the Solemnity of the Ascension is celebrated today. If you celebrate the Ascension in your diocese today, see the reflection from the previous Thursday.)
May 21, 2023
Seventh Sunday of Easter
(When the Ascension was celebrated Thursday—Year A)
Readings for Today
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.” John 17:1–2
This passage comes at the conclusion of the Last Supper and at the end of a lengthy discourse by our Lord. During the three previous chapters of John’s Gospel, Jesus taught His disciples that He will bestow His peace upon them by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that they must remain united to Him as a branch is attached to a vine and that the world will hate them and persecute them. After those instructions, Jesus raised His eyes to Heaven and prayed a lengthy prayer to the Father. It is His High Priestly Prayer by which Jesus acknowledged that His hour had arrived and that it is an hour in which He will glorify the Father. In this prayer, Jesus asks his Father for the disciples to be kept safe from the evils of the world. He also prays for all who would believe in Him and become His followers. Thus, in this prayer Jesus prayed for you.
Spiritually speaking, this High Priestly Prayer continues today through the celebration of the Holy Mass. Recall that Jesus had just celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and was preparing to offer His life on the Cross for the salvation of the world. Within this holy context, Jesus prays this prayer. It is a prayer that is perpetuated by our Lord every time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist.
In commenting upon this passage, Saint Augustine notes that this prayer is prayed immediately after Jesus told His disciples that they would encounter trouble within the world. “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” For that reason, Jesus set an example for us on how we are to deal with the troubles we encounter in life. We, too, must turn our eyes to Heaven and pray to the Father. The best way to do so is by our full interior participation in the Holy Mass.
What form of “trouble” do you experience right now in your life? There are many things that fall into that category and are different for each person. As you call your struggle to mind, try to imagine our Lord kneeling next to you, praying this prayer to the Father for you. In reality, this is exactly what Jesus does every time we participate in the Holy Mass. The Mass is His “hour.” It is His perfect offering to the Father. It is the one and only source of all grace in our world and in our lives. It is Jesus glorifying the Father and inviting us to share in that glorification by uniting ourselves and our troubles to Him in His offering. It is through this perfect Sacrifice that Jesus bestows “eternal life” upon you and all who turn to Him in their need.
Reflect, today, upon the way in which you celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When you attend, do you find you become distracted or are inattentive to what takes place? The Mass is your hour each week in which you kneel next to Jesus as He kneels next to you, praying to the Father in Heaven. The power of the Mass is infinite. Within the Mass all the grace you need is given to you, and you are invited to share in the glory of the Son of God. Ponder your participation in the Mass and renew your commitment to pray it with our Lord with the same depth of prayer Jesus had at that first and perpetual offering.
My Eucharistic Lord, in union with You I offer to the Father in Heaven Your Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity for the salvation of the world. Help me to do so with my whole heart and to be attentive to the offering of Your life as it is perpetuated through the Holy Mass. May I bring my life, my troubles and my whole being to every celebration of the Mass so that I may receive from You the gift of eternal life. Jesus, I trust in You.
Novena to the Holy Spirit
Prayed in preparation for Pentecost
Day Three – Sunday, May 21
Saint of the Day – Saint Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Martyr and Companions, Martyrs
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday