Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter
(Acts 22:30.23:6-11; John 17:20-26)
Today’s first reading illustrates the difficulty of a divided organization to achieve its purpose. Paul is brought to the Sanhedrin for trial about false teaching. Fulfilling the gospel mandate to be “as shrewd as a serpent but as innocent as a dove,” he exploits a division among the Jews. Part of the Jewish Sanhedrin believes in the resurrection as Paul certainly does. Part doesn’t. Paul creates a wedge between the two parts so that they fail to convict him.
In today’s gospel Jesus prays for unity among his disciples. He emphasizes those who live beyond the place and the time where he is. He asks the Father to make them one in mind and heart. He sees such common belief and desire necessary if the world is to know the truth. That is, if the world is to know that God the Father sent His Son Jesus out of love for it, Jesus’ followers must give united testimony.
Unity challenges us today. Educated people want to think for themselves, and many derive ideas at odds with official teaching. For this reason there are thousands of churches with the name “Christian.” Nevertheless, the Catholic Church has bishops who along with the pope declare what is necessary to believe. They are generally good men worthy of our trust and obeisance.