Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday word, 26 May 2009

St. Philip Neri, Memorial (26 May 2009)
Ac 20.1-8; Ps 68; Jn 17. 1-11a
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Future Now

Today’s gospel began Jesus’ solemn prayer at the Last Supper. We will hear it through to its conclusion as the gospels at mass tomorrow and Thursday. It is a remarkable blessing because Jesus’ prayer states that the disciples already possessed eternal life/1/ and glory/2/ and were being consecrated/3/ by the love of God in them as it abided in Jesus./4/

One thing making his blessing remarkable is that the disciples shared in Jesus’ glory in the present moment! That is equally true of disciples in each age. Even more remarkable was the fact that the disciples shared Jesus’ eternal life, glory and consecration before Jesus was exalted on the cross!

That the future was already present boggles our minds. We are linear thinkers, after all and our thinking moves in one way, from past to present to future. Jumbling the order is upsetting, to say the least. Worship at the altar, however, jumbles the order without end.

The eucharist, we profess, makes the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus, present at each altar. We profess, too, to share in the divine life now, even though we have yet to share it fully. Fulness in the future does not make divine life more real. More available, perhaps, but not more real. Yet in the present everything, human and divine, is available to us in part not in full.

Today’s Memorial of St. Philip Neri, suggests to me that prayer, especially the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, transposes future, present and past. We ought not try to constrain prayer to our routine approach to time; rather, we do best to follow prayers lead. Philip is known for bringing priests into prayerful fraternity with the goal of guiding others to live their baptisms fully.

Philip may be less known for prolonged ecstasies while saying mass. As one biography sketched, his “[altar] server sometimes used to absent himself for two hours and then come back when the saint returned to normal.”5 Jesus’ Last Supper prayer causes me smile and wonder, not at Philip’s ecstasy, but at what is “normal”: routine existence or being possessed by God’s glory.

1. John 17.3--today’s gospel selection.
2. John 17.22--Thursday’s gospel selection.
3. John 17.19--Tuesday’s gospel selection.
4. John 17.26--Thursday’s gospel selection.
5. See this first entry of five.
Wiki-image of St. Philip Neri is in the public domain.

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