Father, keep those you have given me true to your name
The Master tells his disciples that they are in the world but not of it. This is not intended as an excuse for not getting involved fully in life but rather an affirmation that the true disciple will take on all that is best in our humanity and so avoid the web of the evil one’s deceit.
Notes: After the loss of Judas, another disciple is chosen as a witness to the ministry and resurrection of Jesus: The College of Apostles is the very foundation of the church and its mission.
'Let someone else take his office'
One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says: Let someone else take his office. ‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’ Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.
Notes: God is not seen with mere human eyes. He lives in us and we in him through love of one another and belief in his Son. This is the gift of The Spirit.
Anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him
My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us. We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit. We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God. We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.
Notes: As he is about to leave the world, Jesus asks The Father to keep his disciples true to his name and help them to stay as one. Just as The Father sent The Son, so The Son sends the apostles into the world that they may bear witness to the truth.
Father, keep those you have given me true to your name
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:‘ Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us. While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures. But now I am coming to you and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full. I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world. I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’
Christian prayer, like all Christian life, is not a walk in the park: so many of the great praying people we meet in the Bible and the history of the Church did not have a comfortable prayer.
The great masters of Christian history recognize that prayer is not always easy, for our human nature but “spiritual struggle”.
Prayer certainly gives great peace, but praying is not something easy: Every time we want to pray, we are immediately reminded of many other activities, which at that moment seem more important and more urgent. Almost always, after putting off prayer, we realise that those things were not essential at all and that we may have wasted time.
This is how the Enemy deceives us.
Even some saints have lamented the fatigue and discomfort of prayer and yet continued to persevere in prayer for years, without savouring it, without perceiving its usefulness.
Silence, prayer and concentration are difficult exercises, and sometimes human nature rebels. We would rather be anywhere else in the world, but not there, on that church pew, praying.
Faith is not easy and sometimes it proceeds in almost total darkness, without The Catechism lists a long series of enemies of prayer (see nos. 2726-2728), but it teaches us that prayer, although a free and unmerited gift of God’s grace, can be affected by our human experiences of discouragement, sadness or disappointment.
Some doubt that prayer can truly reach the Almighty: why does God remain silent? Faced with the elusiveness of the divine, others suspect that prayer is a merely psychological operation; something that may be useful, but is neither true nor necessary: one could even be a practitioner without being a believer.
The worst enemies of prayer are to be found within us.
Ask ourselves: what should we do in the time of temptation, when everything seems to waver? take the examples and lessons to be learnt from the history of spirituality and from the “masters of the soul” who offer contribution and words of wisdom for dealing with difficult times.
For example, the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola are a short book full of great wisdom, which teaches how to put one’s life in order: It makes us understand that the Christian vocation is militancy, it is the decision to stand beneath the banner of Jesus Christ and not under that of the devil, trying to do good even when it becomes difficult.
Jesus is always with us, but in times of trial it is good to remember that we are not alone, that someone is watching over us and protecting us.
I recall the trials faced by the hermit, Saint Anthony the Abbot when prayer became a difficult struggle: His biographer, tells us that Anthony was disturbed by his ordeal, but resisted: "When he finally became serene again, he turned to his Lord with a tone almost of reproach: 'Where were you? Why did you not come immediately to put an end to my suffering?' And Jesus answered: 'Anthony, I was there. But I was waiting to see you fight'”.
I myself recall the father of a critically ill child, a worker who did not attend Mass every Sunday, travelled 70 kilometres to pray at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lujan, the Patron Saint of Argentina. When he got there, it was 10 pm and the Basilica was closed. But he spent the night praying at its gates, and when the church doors opened the following morning he entered, greeted Our Lady, and went home to find that his daughter would be saved.
Struggling to make himself heard through prayer, that man was graced by Our Lady. Our Lady listened. It is something I have witnessed: prayer accomplishes miracles because prayer goes straight to the tenderness of God who sees us as a father does.
It happens that we ask for a grace that we are in need of, but we do so without fighting for it… prayer is a fight and the Lord is always with us.
Jesus is always with us: If in a moment of blindness, we cannot see His presence, we will in the future. At the end of our lives, looking back, we too will be able to say: “I thought I was alone, but no, I was not: Jesus was with me”.