“Amen! Come Lord Jesus!”
As we look forward to Pentecost (next Sunday), our readings today are a series of last words. We hear the last words of St. Stephen as he was stoned to death, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”We hear the last words of St. John at the end of the Book of Revelation, “Come Lord Jesus!”, and we hear the very last words Jesus spoke to his disciples before going out into the night to his arrest and crucifixion.
In our first reading (Acts 7:55-60)
, we hear of the first recorded martyr for Christ, St. Stephen, the Deacon. He was arrested for working “great signs and wonders among the people” and for speaking in Christ’s name. He was stoned to death as a blasphemer, even as he called out to God to forgive them.
Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them;” and when he said this, he fell asleep.
Our Second reading (Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20)
is from the very end of the Book of Revelation. John tells of the second coming of Christ, who is the beginning and the end. In a series of “I AM” statements, Christ tells us who he is and that he is coming soon.
I, John, heard a voice saying to me: "Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates.
"I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star." The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Let the hearer say, "Come." Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water. The one who gives this testimony says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
Our Gospel reading (John 17:20-26)
is taken from the end of Jesus’ farewell discourse at the Last Supper. It is sometimes called the High Priestly Prayer, as Jesus turned his attention to his Father. He prayed an intercessory prayer for his disciples and for those who would come to believe through them. These were the last words spoken by Jesus before he went out to the Garden of Gethsemane. His prayer is for unity, that all may be one, even as Jesus and the Father are one.
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."
As we look forward to and await the coming of the Lord when our world, as we know it, will end, we sometimes can get the idea that Jesus has not yet come. The end times is Jesus final coming, when he will bring ”the recompense to each according to his deeds.” But it is not his only coming. He came to us at his humble, defenseless birth in a manger; he came to us at Pentecost; he comes to us every day in the Eucharist and he comes to us every time we call upon him in need. “Amen! Come Lord Jesus!”
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