A Gospel Reflection
by Deacon Mike Manno

Reflection on the Mass readings for:
Tuesday, May 26

From Deacon Mike:

In today’s readings Paul, in Acts, is delivering a farewell message to the people of Ephesus, to whom he had brought the news of Jesus Christ. He tells the elders there that the Spirit is calling him to Jerusalem where he faces an unknown future. In the Gospel Jesus is praying to his Father just before His Passion. The interesting thing about these two readings is that they both continue on Wednesday. There, Paul urges his followers to protect and shepherd the flock, “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers …” Likewise, Jesus in today’s reading, notes that He has revealed the message of salvation to his disciples and followers and in tomorrow’s reading asks his Father to continue to protect those who are left in the world after he departs.

Two departures, two very similar messages. But what in my mind connects them is that the Church has chosen to place them in the week we celebrate the Ascension of Christ into heaven. In the reading for that liturgy some of the same themes are presented: the disciples are told to go and teach all nations, and as Jesus is enveloped in the clouds, two men in white (probably angels) tease the disciples for just looking at the sky, “Why are you just standing there looking at the sky,” a nice way of telling them to stop looking, you’ve found your Savior, now get off your duff and evangelize.

Reading them all together we can easily understand what we, as Christians, are required to do: Spread the word and protect the flock. Notice, that commission is not just limited to the clergy, to the priests and bishops, but to all of us.

I’m not much of a music buff, but there is one song that always touches me when I hear it. It is called “Here I am, Lord.” I can’t hum it to you over a page, but I think you might remember some of the words:

“I the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry."
“All who dwell in dark and sin, my hand will save."
“I who have made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.”

That of course is the message of what our God will do, brighten the darkness for those in sin. But then the song asks, “Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?”

Which is followed by the refrain, “Here I am Lord, is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.”

The song, I think sums up our responsibilities as given to us in Scripture: We, all of us, are being sent to bring light into the darkness, to nourish ourselves and others as Christ commanded us to do. This is especially important today when so many, cut off from family, friends, and the sacraments, are starting to see the darkness close in on them. It is up to us to remind them and ourselves that we have not been forgotten by God; that even in the challenges we face during these days of epidemic, God “who made the stars of night … will make their darkness bright.”

The song, by the way, was written in 1981 by a Jesuit composer, Dan Schutte, for use during the ordination ceremonies for deacons.

“I will go Lord, if you lead me, I will hold your people in my heart.”
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