TUESDAY OF THE SEVENTH WEEK OF EASTER
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
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.
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.
We see how closely St. Paul imitated the Lord in his words and his mission to preach the Gospel of life and to suffer willingly for it. His focus was entirely on the good of those whom he was called to reach.
Jesus ascended into heaven and prepared his disciples for it. St. Paul knows he is also never going to see his friends at Ephesus again and he lets them know. His mission awaits and persecutions face him in Jerusalem. He is ready to lay down his life. His only care is that he has done his duty to declare to them the purpose of God. Just as Jesus spoke to the Father: “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,” so Paul was careful to share the word of God.
The Lord’s care when he prayed to the Father for us, “now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you,” reveals his heart for us as he had to leave. We are left in the world but Jesus has given us his body and blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist to be with us and strengthen us. He has given us the unity of the Church and he has sent his Spirit. We are not alone. Even if we are given the work of St. Paul, we can say like he did, “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.”