Acts 20: 17-27
From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. When they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the entire time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house, as I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus. And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.
“And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God."
Psalm 68: 10-11, 20-21, 33a
Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness,
O God, you provided for the needy.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.
Our God is a God of salvation,
and to God, the Lord, belongs escape from death.
Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.
John 17: 1-11
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one."
“I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.” These words of St. Paul and Jesus stand out in the poignant and compelling farewell addresses we read today. As both men face the ends of their lives, they communicate not only a peaceful surrender to the will of God but a clear understanding of their purpose on Earth. We would do well to take their words to heart and ask ourselves if we have the same clarity and integrity in our own walks with God.
Both Jesus and St. Paul understood that the purpose of their lives was to remain close to God and to share His truth so that those whom the Lord had put in their paths would also come to know Him and receive the gift of salvation. Through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we have received the same call to share the Word of God with those the Lord has given to us. That will look different in some respects from St. Paul’s calling but will carry its own challenges and demand that we lay down parts of our lives for the sake of the Lord’s work.
Take these Scriptures to prayer today and ask the Lord: who are the people you have given me to share your Word with? How have you called me to share your truth and how can I do this more completely? Ask yourself: how much of a priority are you giving your faith in your daily life? In the busyness of our schedules and in the midst of a culture that encourages us to stay quiet about many matters of truth, are you making an effort to point your spouse and children toward the Lord on a daily basis? Do you have the courage to speak to friends, classmates, or coworkers about the Lord’s love and truth, even if that means you need to take a hard line sometimes? In deciding when and how to speak on matters of faith, are you looking to the Holy Spirit for His wisdom with openness to being challenged or are you remaining in your comfort zone? What is one way God might be calling you to step out a bit more to imitate Him in your daily life?
In this week of anticipating Pentecost, call on the Holy Spirit and ask for His aid in following the Lord wholeheartedly and sharing His love and truth with those He has given you. Pray for the grace to live in such a way that, when you reach the end of your time on Earth, you may likewise tell the Lord “I did not shrink from declaring the whole purpose of God.” St. Paul and all the early followers of Christ, pray for us!