My husband loves the Gospel of John especially John 17. It bothers him that it is bumped from the Lectionary, in all but six diocese in the United States, because the Ascension is celebrated on Sunday instead of Thursday. He wrote a short reflection. Here it is.
John 17 is the great priestly prayer of Jesus. Jesus in the three previous chapters of John had a very intense discussion with the disciples, however for this prayer Jesus turns away from the disciples and lifts his eyes to heaven and prays this beautiful prayer to God the Father.
In the third section that we read today, Jesus is praying for you and me. Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word. Jesus prays that just as He and the Father are one that we also may be in perfect unity with Him and the Father. We are told that God loves us just as much as he loves the Son, Jesus.
It is very sad to reflect that in part of this prayer Jesus prays that the world may believe that God sent Him, however later in the prayer Jesus reflects that the world does not know Him. How true is this today, so much of the world does not want to know Jesus Christ. The unity that Jesus prays for is missing. There is so much disunity in the Church today. So many people want to decide for themselves what to believe in. They want to interpret God’s message in a way that justifies their life style. They want to change the message of Jesus that the Catholic Church has been teaching for two thousand years, so that their choices will receive approval. That abortion or gay marriage is ok.
But we who do believe in Jesus should not lose heart, we have in the closing section this intense prayer for you and I, that we will all see his glory. That the love that Jesus and the Father has we also may have. Wow, what a prayer, if we ever wonder how much Jesus loves us we only have to read the last line “that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”
During Mass Msgr. Beeson touched on the fact that we celebrate the Ascension on Sunday instead of Thursday. My question is the fact that Church attendance being down really one of the reasons it was changed? It seems like we should not divert from tradition. But I don’t know the behind the scene reasoning or complexity of the church’s decision.