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“Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
‘Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them
                                 even as you loved me’ ” (John 17:20-23).
 
Perhaps you’ve heard of a “Last Lecture Series” wherein noted experts in their fields share the wisdom they would impart to the world if they knew it was their last chance. Maybe you’ve seen the last lecture of Carnegie Mellon professor, Dr. Randy Pausch. Because he was dying of cancer, Dr. Pausch’s last lecture was not an imagined premise but truly one of his last chances to pass on his wisdom. It is an inspiring testament.
 
This gospel passage is known as Jesus’ farewell discourse, the last time he addressed his disciples before he was arrested and crucified. Here he expresses his deepest prayers for himself, his disciples, and for those who will come to believe in him.
 
Jesus prays explicitly that our participation in the divine life be realized in a life of love and unity. Several times he prays that his followers may be one, just as he and the Father are one. We are to share in the oneness of God by being one with each other and by recognizing our unity in Christ.
 
Hearing this account of Jesus’ “last lecture” is a good opportunity to assess those places in our lives that do not reflect the divine life within us and that draw us away from unity and love. When we do not act according to our beliefs, we can experience division within ourselves, and that promotes division in our relationships with others and with God. Jesus’ challenge and promise in this passage offer us an opportunity to look at these struggles and ask ourselves if our actions reflect the life that Christ prays for us to have.
 
– In what areas of your life do you struggle most to maintain unity between your Christian beliefs and your actions?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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Mary_JesusMay is traditionally the month dedicated to the Mother of God. She holds special significance for us during this Jubilee Year of Mercy because, through her willingness to bear the Christ child, God became “visible’’ in a particular way as the Father who is rich in mercy.
 
Pope Saint John Paul II, in his encyclical Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), calls Jesus the incarnation of mercy. No one has ever seen God (John 1:18), but by virtue of Mary’s motherhood, God is made known to us by Christ, and known above all in Christ’s “relationship of love” for humanity.
 
Mary spoke some very heart-warming words during her visit to her cousin, Elizabeth—“His mercy is from generation to generation”—heart-warming words because God’s mercy continues to be revealed in her and through her—right down to us today.
 
Mary obtained mercy in an exceptional way, as no other person has. She, then, has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God’s mercy.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Mary, Mother of Mercy,
we thank you for your share in revealing God’s mercy.
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid’” (John 14:23, 27).
 
Peace and love, love and peace. It seems this is all we’ve been hearing for several weeks; yet, just as the disciples before us, we are challenged once again to love and to be peace for the world. When we read or hear about a violent place where people are hoping for or working to achieve peace, it is not the same as the peace spoken of in this Scripture reading—“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
 
Shalom—the one word of Hebrew that almost everyone knows. Jesus entrusts to us the rich heritage of peace that he received from his own tradition and from his Father. Shalom is not what we usually consider to be peace—the absence of war and strife. It is a positive state in which all is right between us and God, and between us and all of God’s creation. This is the true peace that Jesus wishes for us. Such shalom is made possible only by the reconciliation of the world to the Father in Christ.
 
Jesus promises shalom, an active peace. It is the task of peace, the making right of relationships, the seeking of peace. Shalom is similar to the peace we are to seek with others before we gather in the celebration of the Eucharist. We are to heal the broken body of the Church and any of our relationships before sharing the Body of Christ and the shalom that calls us to “be peace” for others.
 
We are called to make shalom happen—to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to bring good news to all those who need it, to bring peace to all. Shalom is the greatest gift Christ left us. Spreading this peace is the greatest gift we can give to others.
 
How have you experienced shalom in your life?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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last_supperAt the Last Supper, Jesus gave us what could be called his final, “death bed” request.
 
He summed up the entire sense of his incarnation, teaching, passion, death, and resurrection in these few words:
 

“Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love
one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”

 
This might also be the greatest message of the Jubilee Year of Mercy—that we can be assured God loves us.
 
St. John Chrysostom, the revered archbishop of Constantinople and Father of the Church, pointed out that for St. Paul, “The most important thing of all was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ. Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else.”
 
There is a beautiful song by Gregory Norbert, often heard in our churches. Its refrain says, “All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.”
 
If we can live a life rich in love for God, self, and one another, as Jesus instructs, we will be blessed to have these poetic and saving words as our epitaph.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Dear Jesus,
grant us the grace and perseverance
to love one another as you love us.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“’My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’” (John 13:33a, 34-35).
 
James and Kati Kim and their two small daughters settled into their car to return home from their Thanksgiving trip to the Pacific Northwest. Soon they would be sharing the news of their trip with family and friends. All it took was one wrong turn and their car became hopelessly stuck in deep snow. With no cars and no people in sight, James and Kati knew they were in serious trouble. They rationed their food, ran the car to keep warm until the gas was gone, and even burned the car’s tires to attract attention. Finally, after several days, James made a tough decision—he would have to leave and go look for help.
 
“Husband and father lost!” became the headline after Kati and the girls were rescued. People across the country prayed for James’ rescue, but days later his body was discovered about a mile away from the car.
 
James’ love for his family led him to make the decision to risk his life in order to save the lives of his wife and daughters. This is the kind of love to which Jesus challenges the disciples in this Gospel passage, a serious, doing for others, giving-of-my-whole-self love! Jesus tells the disciples their love should be based on the love he has shown them, from the lowly task of washing their feet, to a painful and humiliating death on the cross.
 
In light of the depth of Jesus’ love, the command to “love as I have loved,” can seem daunting, but we must do what we can to live it out. Some show it by working toward justice; by reaching out to those in need; by running into the wilderness or a burning building to save others, reaching out beyond themselves to love in the way Jesus challenges us all to love.
 
– When have you experienced agapé (self-sacrificial love) or shown it for others?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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