This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church
From Miletus Paul had the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus summoned. When they came to him, he addressed them,
“You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia. I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews, and I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes.
I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus. But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace. “But now I know that none of you to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels will ever see my face again. And so I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God’s salvation.
Luke has shown the strenuous, indefatigable nature of his hero, Paul. Now he shows his emotional depth, and gives a kind of heroic pathos to his farewell speech at Ephesus. Luke is writing at least 20 years after Paul’s death, but his history shows the mark made by the apostle on the whole church. Although Luke’s “Paul” is not quite the same person as Paul’s “Paul”, seen in his letters, the incredible energy and commitment of the man is evident in both, providing a much-needed corrective to a contemporary apostolate more concerned with pension rights than preaching the gospel.
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.
“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”
Glory is the shining of divine love. That makes it quite contrary to what worldly rulers think of as glory. Jesus glorifies God by his death on the cross for love of the father and the world. The place Jesus comes from is a place of glory for it is the place where father and son share one love. He will return to that place, leaving his disciples in the world, that is, amongst those who have not yet accepted God’s love. Jesus has been glorified in his disciples because from them he has received back a reflection of the love he has given to them.
Although Jesus prays for his followers rather than for the world, he leaves them there, so that the world may still be offered the divine love. At least, I want to interpret the words that way, but I have to admit that at this point Jesus’ words can be read as giving up on the world, out of which the true disciples have been plucked.
When such doubt exists, I go back to the rest of the gospel, especially to the assertion that God loved the world so much he gave his only son. Perhaps only God should love the world, because only God is holy enough to do so without contamination. We are to love God and our neighbour, but not the world, which is too dangerous for us to cope with. A complacent worldliness is a constant temptation to the churches in the developed countries. That’s why Jesus prays for us. That’s why we mustn’t accept the world’s version of glory.