Tuesday, Week Twenty-One
The Responsorial (Psalm 139) reminds us to find our peace in God’s knowledge of our hearts: “You have searched me and you know me, Lord.”
In 1Thessalonians 2:1-8 Paul, in revealing his own heart, also describes the spirit of love and unity that should pervade the Christian community. It is a spirit of selfless service based on love.
Paul’s motives “met the test.” He, Silvanus and Timothy preached “in the face of great opposition,” out of an awareness of mission — like “men entrusted with the good tidings,” who “strive to please God.” “We were not guilty,” Paul says of “buttering up” anybody, of greed or desire for glory, and did not “insist on our own importance as apostles of Christ.” So why did they preach?
Paul says it was because “we wanted to share with you not only God’s tidings but our very lives, so dear had you become to us.” Love of neighbor impels us to proclaim the love of God. Love of God fills us with love of neighbor. Both in Christianity and in the Mass love of neighbor and of God are inseparable. The goal of the “great Commandments,” of the Mass, and of Christianity itself is unity, union, communion in one shared life, the divine Life of God revealed in our union of mind, heart and will.
God’s “plan for the fullness of time” is to “gather up all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.” That “they may all be one.” Jesus said, “as you, Father, are in me and I am in you.” This is the goal and the guiding spirit of Christianity and of the Eucharistic celebration.
In Matthew 23:23-26 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and scribes for focusing on minor issues while ignoring the essential ones. “You strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” This warns us against teaching laws and practices without constantly placing them in an overwhelming context of love — love and care for each other as well as of absolute, all-enveloping love for God.
In the four common Eucharistic Prayers there is not a single mention of “law.” But “unity,” “union,” “fellowship,” being “one body, one spirit,” appear over and over, competing with “thanks” and “praise.” To understand (and teach) what we are as Christians, and what Christianity calls us to be, we need to read and re-read the Eucharistic Prayers, noticing what we celebrate. What we celebrate is what we are; and what we celebrate consciously is what we become.
The Intercessions that constitute most of the Eucharistic Prayer after the Consecration envelop us in the spirit of love and unity. Typically we pray first for the hinges of unity, the bishops and clergy. Then for “our departed brothers and sisters,” who are just as present to this celebration as we are. Then for ourselves and all the living, asking that we might “share” in the “fellowship” and “inheritance” they have entered into fully and we still await. Conscious of unity, we pray for union.
Initiative: Unite yourself with all and pray for all in the Intercessions.
 Ephesians 1:9-10; Mark 13:26-27; John 17:20-23.