In today’s Gospel readings for Mass from John 17:20-26, we hear loud and clear the call to be one: “so they may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you… so they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one.” Contrast this oneness of mind and heart with the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles 22:30; 23: 6-11, when Paul is almost torn into pieces by the uproar between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The troops were sent down to rescue Paul from their midst. We hear that the Lord came to Paul and stood by him and said: “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.” 

When I prayed through these readings today my heart was drawn to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius on his Meditation of the Two Standards – the standard meaning a flag. We either stand with Jesus or we stand with the way of the world. We all have to choose where we are going to stand with Jesus or with the world. You cannot stand under both flags; it is either with Jesus or with the world. Remember in the book of Revelation how Christ presents himself to the Laodiceans and reproves them for being lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. The Lord declares that he is about to spit them out of his mouth. Christ is saying that the Laodiceans make him sick. (Catholic commentary on Scripture: Revelation by Peter S. Williamson)

Father John Horn, SJ has a powerful diagram of what the Two Standards look like. I encourage you to pray and fast with this diagram in these last days of the Novena to the Holy Spirit. Pay attention to when you stand with Jesus there will always be unity of the heart and when you stand with Satan there will always be division of the heart. Again, pay attention to the words described when you stand under the flag of Jesus and the words described when you stand under the flag of Satan. Which standard manifests the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? (Galatians 5:22-23)

St. Cyril of Alexandria commentary on John we hear: “Christ wishes the disciples to be kept in the state of unity by maintaining a like–mindedness and an identity of will, being mingled together as it were in soul and spirit in the law of peace and love for one another. He wishes them to be bound together tightly with an unbreakable bond of love, that they may advance to such a degree of unity that their freely chosen associations might even become an image of natural unity that is conceived to exist between The Father and the Son.”

Come Holy Spirit – Come Now – Come as you May

God bless – Fr. Mark