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May 22, 1998     The Message
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14 The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana That all may be one: Eternal presence with Jesus By FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel Commentary for May 24, 1998: Seventh Sun- day Of Easter: Cycle C: John 17:20-26 The context of this Sunday's gospel is the conclu- _-.ion of Jesus' Last Supper discourse or sermon in the Gospel of John. This Sunday's gospel is also the con- clusion of the final chapter of that discourse, Jesus' priestly prayer for unity. As a priest, Jesus stands between his disciples and his Father. He appeals to his Father for their security and for their unity with each other, with himself, and with the Father. In the last part of this prayer Jesus' attention turns to future disciples and prays for "those who believe in me through their word." That is the theme of today's gospel. Recall that early Christians expected the end to come with the reappearance of Jesus as final judge long before the Gospel of John was written. When, contrary to expectation he did not return interest in an imminent end began to wane. A longer future for the Christian community could now be envisioned. There would be future disciples. They, too, would need prayer. Such thoughts would have been in John's mind when he composed this prayer. Today, when some regulation Or document is issued by the Vatican, it is in response to a specific sit- uation in the Christian community. It is the same with the four gospels. Whatever an author chose to include in his gospel was chosen to respond to a spe- cific situation in his contemporary Christian commu- nity. Throughout the gospel, John seems to have been struggling against various factions in his community. It is likely that he was still engaged in the debate over acceptance of Gentiles (non-Jews) into the Christian Golden Jubllarlans Robert and Clotilda (Will) Kozlowsky of Evansville will cele- brate their fiftieth wedding annivemary with a Mass of Thanks- giving at 4 p.m. May 30 at Good Shepherd Church, Evansville. A reception, dinner and dance will follow. They were married May 29, 1948, at St. Anthony. They are the parents of eight children: Arlene Smith, Mark Kozlowsky, Cynthia Witmeier, Kathy Daniel, Joan Hillenbrand, Dan Kozlowsky, Christine Young and Teresa Peak. They have 13 grandchildren. Mr. Kozlowsky is retired from Faultless Castor. Mrs. Kozlowsky is retired from the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation. community. Thus already in the prologue to his gospel, his insistence that it was not necessary to be born of a certain race or people, but that "to all who believed in his name he gave power to become chil- dren of God." Jesus' long dialogue with the Samari- tan woman and the acceptance of Jesus as "Savior of the world," by all the people of the Samaritan village also respond to the problem of excluding certain races or peoples. Within the parable of the Good Shepherd Jesus is portrayed as saying, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold. Them also I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice." In chapter twelve a delegation of pagans (Greeks) requests and audience with Jesus. In response Jesus says, "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself" The unity of Jew and Gentile in the Christian Church thus seems to be a major thrust of John's gospel and the object of the priestly prayer for unity, "that all may be one." What kind of oneness is the goal? "As you, Father, in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us .... " Unity between Father and Son is a unity of love. Earlier in the gospel Jesus had said that the love with which the Father loves him rests on his obedfence to his Father's command, "that ! lay down my life in order to take it up again." The next step is found earlier in the Last Supper dis- course, when Jesus tells his disciples that he has only one commandment to give to them, "Love one another as I have loved you." His love was expressed, according to John's theology, by laying down his life for his friends, his disciples, in fact, for all the people of the world. This is the kind of unity that Jesus prays for, that all members of the Christ- ian community are willing to lay their life on the line for any other member, no matter what the racial origin of any member may be. Through this prayer of Jesus, John appeals for this type of service-ethic Golden Jubilarians Dennis H. and Esther Schitter will celebrate their fiftieth wed- ding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 11 a.m. May 31 in St. Joseph Church, Jasper. A dinner for invited guests will be held at noon at the Knights of Columbus Home in Jasper. An Open House for relatives and friends will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. The couple requests no gifts. They were married May 25, 1948, at St. Joseph Church. Father Othmar Schroeder officiated. They are the parents of seven children, Billy Joe Schitter, who is deceased; Sharon Rasche, Terry Schittel; Rick Schitter, Jeff Schit- ter and Beverly Merkel, all of Jasper, and Tim Schitter of Car- milton, Texas. They have 11 grandchildren, three step-grand- children and two step-great-grandchildren. Mr. Schitter retired as plant manager of Dale Wood Manufacturing, a division of Kim- ball International, in 1990. among the Christians for whom he is The unity of love is not only c also of "being." The Father lives Son in the Father. Thus the prayer goes beyond doing a commandment. The Christians with each other is a of being between Father and Son, become perfectly one, I in them and Father." The life which the Father shares is als0 accessible to God's and sisters of Jesus. There is, however one that they believe in his divine mission, was sent by the Father out ot that they believe that Jesus name, that of Jesus it can be rightfully God has to be recognized in Jesus. deciding point in John's was considered Christian and who was: Finally, John comes to the purpose the Christian community, believe that you have sent me and have even as you have loved me." The to the success of Christianity may Ir among the various Christian groups,. , text Jesus said, "A house di' fled ajza stand." Neither can it make parish, in a diocese, or in the how narrowly John defines the Christian, love in being, (divine action, (keeping the commandment another), recognition (faith) in Jesus the divine name, the "I AM." 1 for unity among Christians one in being and action, still remain . r : equal persons. . " Readings: Acts 7:55-60; Revel 20; John 17:20-26. ........ 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