Memory of the Church

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Memorial of St. Boniface, bishop and martyr. He announced the Gospel in Germany and was killed while celebrating the Eucharist (†754)

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 17, 20-26

I pray not only for these but also for those who through their teaching will come to believe in me.

May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one.

With me in them and you in me, may they be so perfected in unity that the world will recognise that it was you who sent me and that you have loved them as you have loved me.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see my glory which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Father, Upright One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me.

I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel presents the third and last part of Jesus’ “priestly prayer.” The dramatic hour of the passion is drawing closer. Jesus has lifted his eyes to the Father and passionately prayed for that little group of disciples, so that they might not be lost, but rather have the strength to continue his own mission of salvation. Now his gaze is widening to include all those who in every age and part of the earth will believe in the Gospel because of the apostles’ teaching. The walls of the upper room seem to broaden and a multitude of men and women from every corner of the earth appear before Jesus’ eyes, waiting for consolation and peace. Jesus prays for this vast people and asks the Father that “That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus is calling for a true brotherhood of men and women, healthy and sick, great and small. He knows well that the spirit of division, the spirit the devil, would try to destroy them. It does not matter how the devil is disguised. Everything that divides is inspired by him. The danger is so great that Jesus dares to say an ambitious, high prayer, almost impossible: he asks the Father to give the disciples the same unity that exists between him and the Father. Jesus says, “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.” Jesus’ “excessive” love - but in reality it is quite realistic - asks the impossible, because he knows that the Father loves without any limit. In fact, it is this “excessive” loves that qualifies Jesus’ disciples and makes them credible to the world. The men and women of every generation - Jesus affirms - will believe the Gospel to the extent that the disciples bear witness to mutual love. Jesus establishes a direct relationship between the disciples’ love and the communication of the Gospel. Without the witness of mutual love, there can be no Christian mission; there can be no evangelization. We need to be more courageous about asking whether we are truly being leavening of love, unity, solidarity, and communion. The risk of individualizing Christianity, just like everything else, should not be underestimated; on the contrary, it is a vast phenomenon. This is why mission is so often half-hearted and ineffective. At the beginning of this new millennium, there is an urgent need for us to renew our commitment to communicating the Gospel everywhere. But preaching needs to begin with the concrete witness of that Gospel love that pushes us to love others more than ourselves and to spend our lives for the Gospel and not for our own profit. Those who experience the beauty of this love know that nothing can break it. Not even death. And the unity of the disciples is the Church’s prophecy for the resigned world of today. There is no organization, not even the most technically perfect, that can replace the love between brothers and sisters. This is still the secret of the effectiveness of the Church’s mission today.