Reflection – “In Between Sunday”


The Acts of the Apostles 1: 12-14

John 17: 1-11

I am tempted to call this Sunday, ‘In Between Sunday.’ This is because if we look back to Thursday we celebrated The Ascension of Jesus and if we look forward to next Sunday we will be celebrating Pentecost, so here we are in between. Today then I want us to focus our attention on the practical side to our faith by focusing on two things,

  • Prayer
  • Eternal Life

During this period of lockdown when people have been instructed, as far as possible, to stay at home there is a temptation to feel a little at a loss when it comes to the practice of our faith. However, the truth is something very different and today’s readings remind us of that.

Firstly let us think about prayer. We know for example that Jesus prayed often sometimes spending all night in prayer. We also know that the disciples of Jesus asked him how to pray and he responded with the Lord’s Prayer. Equally Jesus exhorted his followers to pray as much as possible. With that in mind let us now turn to today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke. After the Ascension and Jesus’s promise to send the Holy Spirit, the disciples along with Mary, the women and some other followers made their way to Jerusalem, there in the upper room they gathered together and ‘joined in continuous prayer.’ This, in fact, is one of the themes of Luke in the Acts of the Apostles with the followers of Jesus often coming together and praying for guidance from above. In this way Luke is making the point that the Church and all its members should be totally dependant on God’s grace. Further more, Luke is also telling us that it is through prayer that we can discern God’s will. Prayer then was a vital part of the early life of the Church and as a result it should be an essential part of our life too.

Prayer means that we can actually do something that will make a difference. Not everything is about physical action, there has to be room in our lives of faith for just placing ourselves in the presence of God and being totally reliant on the Holy Spirit. We should, in fact, never underestimate the power of prayer. This brings us back to this period of lock down and the one thing we all can do, which is pray. So I would suggest setting aside a period of prayer each day and through our dependence on the Holy Spirit offering up everything to God. It may help to have a theme or prayer intention along the following lines,

Day One – The National Health Service and all care workers

Day Two – All people suffering mental health issues and any kind of abuse

Day Three – Our families, friends and loved ones

Day Four – Teachers, children and their parents

Day Five – The dying, the dead and all those who minister to them

Day Six – The Church, the parish, the people and the clergy

Day Seven – All key workers

Day Eight – The Government and its ministers

Day Nine – The elderly, the housebound and the vulnerable

Day Ten – The poor, those in debt and the unemployed

The list is not meant to be exhaustive but it makes the point that we all can do something, we all, through prayer, can make a difference. We should not underestimate the power of prayer and we should not be afraid tell someone that we will pray for them. Saying a simple decade of the rosary everyday for one of the intentions is another way of praying and offering up our concerns to God.

Let us now move on to today’s Gospel reading from John, which should inspire us when we pray. This is because the Gospel reading itself is a prayer and not just a prayer but also the prayer of Jesus himself. In fact, in these words from Saint John what we discover is, nothing less, than the loving and intimate words used by Christ for those he knew that he was leaving behind. Jesus is praying for all those who loved him and believed that he had come from the Father. We too, therefore, should be confident that when we pray, reflecting our belief in Jesus, that he also is praying for us. Imagine that, every time we pray, we are not doing so alone because, in truth, Christ never stops praying for us. This should give us great confidence, especially in these most difficult of times and encourage us to never stop praying.

Now let us come to our second issue that of eternal life. If someone was to ask you directly, ‘what is eternal life?’ what would you say? Without reading another word just give your response some thought and see whether your answer fits in with what I have to say next. I bet that most of you would have given an answer that focused on an event in the future, am I right? Now go back and read what Jesus tells us about eternal life in the Gospel reading for today,

‘And eternal life is this:

to know you,

the one true God,

and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’

Now here is the thing. What John is telling is that ‘eternal Life’ is not, in fact, some future event but rather is something given to us now for those who believe that he has come from the Father. Later in the reading when Jesus speaks of returning to the

Father he reveals something of equal importance to us in the here and now. That there is, in fact, no divide between the world we live in and the world of God. The resurrection of Christ and his Ascension has changed everything. This is THE Easter message, his resurrection and Ascension reveals that all things are part of the same divine reality. This is why it is possible for us to say that every day of our lives in and through our faith in Jesus Christ we are doing nothing less than sharing in the life of God.

‘I pray for them;

I am not praying for the world

But for those you have given me,

Because they belong to you:

all I have is yours

and all you have is mine,

and in them I am glorified.

I am not in the world any longer,

but they are in the world,

and I am coming to you.’

Just remember and keep close to your hearts Jesus’s parting words to us here, that although we are in the world, we in fact, belong to God.

 Sean Loone

Seventh Sunday of Easter 2020