Jesus prays for us

06-02-2019Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

Today’s scripture readings have us look closely at the last moments of Stephen’s life. Chapter 7 in Acts is all about the witness of Stephen. He even gives a long speech, which really is made up of the beliefs that the followers of Jesus want said at this dramatic time of Stephen. Note how, as Stephen awaits his coming death, we see elements of the life of Jesus himself. Also we know that Stephen is the Church’s first recorded martyr, or witness. He sees and understands that his life is patterned on Jesus’ life. We can also see this. Note in addition how Saul easily ob-serves the death. We also know that Saul’s conversion will also come in time and he will come to believe.

The Book of Revelation reaches an end this weekend in our second reading. We have read from this book for 6 Sundays. The readings and their language offer us many images which thematize our Easter celebration: For example: Jesus is named the Alpha and Omega, first and last, beginning and end. We know this is the image and language of the Easter Vigil. The reading from Revelation this weekend is a vision of fullness and of completeness. This is all about a promise of eternal life. And thus the Book of Revelation ends with John pleading the prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

In contrast, the prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper is future orientated, far beyond the time of John and the rest of the apostles, over the centuries, perhaps even us. In our Gospel today, the apostles are prayed for. Our unity in love is sought, that we might dwell in Jesus as God dwells in him. Jesus prays and asks for this.

We should be struck by the fact that Jesus prayed for us, that he places himself right in front of us and lets us see him at prayer and hear his prayer.

Bear in mind that this is the deepest wishes and prayer of Jesus. Are you moved by the depth of this scene? Surely this Gospel story leads us to a closer union with Christ.