”The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.“ ~ Saint Augustine of Canterbury
Goodbyes and farewells highlight today’s Reading (Acts 20:28-38) and Gospel (John 17:11-19) as observed and reflected upon around this time last year when these readings were proclaimed https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Of-Prayers-Farewells-and-Truth. Whereas Paul forewarned the men and women of Miletus of the “savage wolves” that would soon be in their midst, we revisit Jesus entering into the high-priestly prayer, offered up on the Last Supper.
For Paul, his goodbye in Miletus would quickly turn to peril in Rome as made manifest in tomorrow’s 1st Reading (Acts 22:30, 23:6-11). It is in Rome that Paul finds himself before the Chief Priests and the whole Sanhedrin on the heels of his two year imprisonment, where he explains to them that he is, for all and intents and purposes, being “put on trial for hope.” https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/On-Trial-For-Hope. As for Jesus, we know the fate that awaited him on Good Friday.
Today marks the Feast Day of another man who would go on to walk the treacherous path of frontier evangelism, Saint Augustine of Canterbury. A Benedictine Monk who became the 1st Archbishop of Canterbury and the man I affectionately refer to as “the other Saint Augustine” https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Saint-Augustine-and-the-Scenic-Route-to-Sainthood, Augustine of Canterbury would go on to establish the Catholic Church in England, earning the title of “The Apostle to the English” along the way. As such, he is the Patron Saint of England.
Saint Augustine of Canterbury’s story is one of perseverance. He was prone to indecision, dogged by a lack of self-confidence. He stumbled, erred, and at times came face-to-face with abject failure in his efforts to unify the Briton Christians, for his desire was to bring them and others into the fullness and richness of the Catholic Church. Through the burgeoning Gifts of the Holy Spirit dwelling and burning within him however, he would go on to achieve Sainthood, serving as an example for all who seek to bring the Good News of Jesus’ redemptive mercy into the lives of others.
In light of the tumultuous and tragic events taking place in Minneapolis this week, unity would appear to be a pipe dream. Bigotry, violence, and hatred on the other hand are far too common. May we join Jesus in the prayer that he offers in tomorrow’s Gospel (John 17:20-26) when he calls out to the Father on behalf of all his beloved children “So that they may all be one.”
On the topic of tomorrow’s Gospel, it is there that we find Jesus praying for his disciples.... and praying for us too. Unity, the topic and desire of Jesus’ prayer to the Father, begins with loving the people in our lives right now. Disagreements become irrelevant or at least trivial when we grow to perceive the grace of God in others. Unity on a larger and grander scale can then logically develop and emerge. In the meantime, it starts with loving the people in front of you. Through humility and self-control, we can avoid the discord that plagues our world, instead serving as beacons and bearers of peace https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Redemption-For-All-and-Peace-Real-Peace.
Pope Francis tells us that “Unity does not imply uniformity; it does not necessarily mean doing everything together or thinking in the same way. Nor does it signify a loss of identity. Unity in diversity is actually the opposite: it involves the joyful recognition and acceptance of the various gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to each one and the placing of these gifts at the service of all members of the Church. It means knowing how to listen, to accept differences, and having the freedom to think differently and express oneself with complete respect towards the other who is my brother or sister. Do not be afraid of differences!” Great words for all of us to reflect upon in these days of strife and discord.
As the Church finds itself on the precipice of Pentecost Sunday, may we all strive for a personal rebirth rooted in acceptance, patience, perseverance and the joy of knowing and loving a God who saves those who were otherwise once blind to these virtues.
“Come Holy Spirit, envelope the hearts of the faithful, so that we can become joyful ambassadors of the Good News of Jesus Christ, persevering in ways they bring peace and tranquility into the lives of those we encounter.” ~ Amen
Saint Augustine of Canterbury, pray for us.
For more on today’s Gospel Passage, please revisit the following essay: