Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Psalm 68:10-11, 20-21
In his prayer on the night of the Last Supper, Jesus directs our attention to his heavenly Father, to glory and to eternal life. The Son eternally glorifies the Father and the Father in turn eternally glorifies the Son. Divine glory is nothing other than the knowledge and love that God has of himself. This is the mystery of the Trinity: the Son proceeds from the Father by way of knowledge; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son by way of love.
God created this world and man for no other reason than his glory and for man to share in his glory. After man sinned, a redeemer is promised and, through his Incarnation, the Son continues to glorify the Father by accomplishing the work of redeeming man through the blood of his cross, the work of revealing the Father’s name to man, and the work of restoring man to his original vocation (CCC, 516-518). In this way, the Son frees man from sin and death and can give eternal life to mankind. Through the gift of eternal life man shares in the divine glory for which he was created. Here on earth, man shares in the knowledge that the Son and the Father have of one another through the virtue of faith and the gift of wisdom; he shares in the love that the Father and the Son have for each other in the Holy Spirit, who is Love. In heaven, faith gives way to the vision of God and hope gives way to possessing God in love.
As his prayer to the Father unfolds, Jesus affirms that he accomplishes the works of the Father. He focuses on the work of revelation. As the New Moses, he reveals the name of the Father to his disciples and, as the Word of God, he communicates the words of the Father to them. Those who welcome Jesus’ words in faith, will receive the glorious inheritance of the Son.
On his third missionary journey, Paul spent over two years in the city of Ephesus. He spoke daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus, preaching the word of the Lord. Through Paul, God worked mighty deeds – healing the sick and exorcising evil spirits – among the people. These are signs that attest to the truth of Paul’s message; they invite people to belief in Jesus Christ.
The city of Ephesus was renowned for its magic practices and the great Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Acts of the Apostles narrates how the magicians who came to believe in Christ left their former practices behind and had their books burned in public; it also tells of how Jewish exorcists misused the name of Jesus (Acts 19:13-20). The success of Paul’s evangelizing preaching – persuading the people that gods made by hands are not gods at all – leads to the riot of the silversmiths who crafted replicas of the shrines of Artemis (Acts 19:23-40).
After his time in Ephesus, Paul crosses over to Macedonia and Greece, possibly to Athens and Corinth. He stayed in Greece for three months and decided to return to Syria by way of Macedonia to avoid a plot against his life. In Troas, Paul restores a young man, Eutychus, to life (Acts 20:4-12). Paul wants to arrive to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost and to make time does not go himself to the Church in Ephesus on his return, but has the presbyters come down to meet him in Miletus.
Paul knows somehow that this is the last time he will see the presbyters. And so, in his farewell speech he reminds them of his own conduct among them and presents himself as an example of Christian life and leadership. “Paul’s speech marks the transition from the apostles, the first-generation leaders of the Church who were directly appointed by Jesus, to their successors, the bishops” (W. Kurz, Acts of the Apostles, Baker Academic, 310).
Paul served the Lord by ministering to the church in Ephesus: “Paul’s ministry, like that of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (Isa 53) and the Lord Jesus, entailed personal sacrifice rather than self-aggrandizement. It was carried our with all humility and with tears and trials … because of the plots of the Jews” (W. Kurz, Acts of the Apostles, Baker Academic, 310). Much of Paul’s ministry was that of communicating what he received from God and bearing witness to the Gospel of God’s grace. Throughout his ministry and missionary journeys Paul did not follow his own plan, but instead allowed himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Communion Antiphon reminds us of this action of the Holy Spirit: he will teach us all things and remind us of what Jesus has told us.
Today’s Liturgy of the Word speaks to us of the eternal glory of the Trinity, of how the Son, through his death and resurrection, restored us to our original vocation to share in that glory, of how the Son communicated to us everything he received from the Father, of how the Apostles continued the mission of the Son under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and of how Paul passed on what he received to the local Churches. It makes us reflect on the fact that we are called to be imitate Paul and share with others the divine gifts that we have received. We too need to allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit, so that, in our journey of faith, we come to the fullness of eternal life and divine glory.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at [email protected].