Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Since he wanted to find out what Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet. He brought Paul down and had him stand before them.
When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) Then a great clamor arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees’ group stood up and contended, “We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks.
That night the Lord stood near him and said, “Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.”
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.
You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
In Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, he asks the Father that all his disciples will be made one, just as he and the Father are one. He asks that they will be made one in the Father, just as he is one with the Father. This is an extraordinary prayer. We will never be able to fully understand the relationship between Jesus and the Father, or the complete nature of the Trinity. However, God calls us to be a part of that relationship, all connected to each other and to God through the Holy Spirit. Jesus desires a unity with his people, as described by the psalmist, for giving us counsel and instructing our hearts. He wants us to remain connected in him so that nothing can shake us, but that we are always walking according to his will.
When St. Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin in our first reading, it was God who called him there as witness. God put it on his heart to say the one thing that would cause the whole assembly to turn on each other instead of against Paul. This was God’s desire, to get the Sanhedrin to question each other regarding their own faith, and the Sanhedrin’s lack of ruling set Paul up to be sent to Rome. In all of this, St. Paul remained rooted in God, instructed by the Holy Spirit. In all of this, God was the one in control. In all of this, St. Paul was working in cooperation with God.
We are called to be united to God through the Holy Spirit, united to all of God’s people through the Spirit, and called to work in cooperation with God. It does not mean that life will be easy for us. Indeed, for St. Paul to accomplish God’s will for his life, it required his arrest, imprisonment, and ultimately his martyrdom. But it does mean that our lives will be rooted in God, and that our actions will help to unravel God’s plan for our lives. If we remain surrendered to his will, steeped in prayer, and attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we can trust that even in our trials, God is the one working all things to good for the salvation of souls. As we come upon the great feast of Pentecost this Sunday, let us pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let us pray for the grace to be lead by the Spirit, to be sensitive to how God is leading us, and for the patience to bear our trials so that they may unfold in the way God desires. Let us pray that every day we become one with God and one with all his holy people. Amen.