Today is an interesting day in the Christian calendar. We get it from Luke, the man who invented Pentecost. Christian Pentecost, I mean, for as a second spring harvest festival fifty days after Passover Pentecost had a long Jewish history. Since Luke alone reports Jesus’ ascension after forty days, he likewise give us the ten day interval in the midst of which this Sunday occurs. I am not being frivolous about Saint Luke. The other three evangelists deal with Jesus’ upraising from the dead as if it were his sole glorification. There, he appears to his friends from his heavenly glory. In Mark Jesus tells them (14:28)  — and later the women through a young man at the tomb (16:7) — that they will see him in Galilee. In Matthew he announces to them on a mountain to which he had summoned them (28:6) that he will be with them always. At the end of John 21 —  this time also in Galilee but as described by a different hand than the author of the first 20 chapters — Jesus says at the lakeshore simply, “follow me” (21:9). Luke alone employs the symbolisms of the biblical forty days (Moses’ time spent on the mountains, and Elijah’s flight to Mount Horeb among other examples), then fifty days, to forge a link with the Church’s parent Israel. We are not a community without roots born instantly once Jesus appeared on the scene. We are a community with roots — deep and abiding Jewish roots. To this Saint Luke and the feasts of last Thursday and next Sunday bear abundant testimony.

The prophet Zechariah at 14:4 describes the feet of the LORD – who by definition has no feet – as resting on the Mount of Olives on the day of a mighty battle between Jerusalem and all the nations. By the time Luke writes, the Church is calling Jesus “Lord” in a derived sense. It is his feet that will stand on a Mt. Olivet spit in two, not between north and south as in the prophetic book, but between those who heed the gospel (Jews and Gentiles). That is the tale of an upstairs room entirely populated by Jews, both men and women, who will reach out to non-Jews that most of us are. That mixture did not survive long in the Church. Another mixture did: believers like Jesus’ plebeian family members and friends, the “ordinary people” of the gospels and the wealthy women Luke reports supported Jesus and the Twelve “out of their means” (8:3).

The second reading (1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11) tells us nothing we have not been hearing from 1 Peter these last six weeks: that to be a faithful disciple of Jesus is to suffer in his name. The passage has a modern ring in that the Church’s tendency has always been to lick its wounds for non-offenses while failing to suffer in many times and places for the right kind of witness. At the moment, courageous protest and resistance is being lodged against the murderous destruction of Ukraine. One has the uncomfortable feeling that this situation is being deplored because they are our people. The ongoing conflict in Yemen, the strife in Darfur, the genocidal persecution of the Rohingya receive far less attention. We are, however, disciples of a Master who taught justice for all, not just for the members of the household of faith. Hence, “suffering as a Christian,” as 1 Peter puts it (4:16) ideally means feeling the pain when any other human being’s rights are infringed.

The gospel for Sunday (John 17:1-11) is the central piece in our reflection as we come to the close of the Easter season next week with the arrival of Pentecost. The prayer put on Jesus’ lips by John in chapter 17 is at once a concluding testament and a farewell speech – like Moses’s song and blessing toward the end of Deuteronomy (chapters 32, 33). The speaker [of the prayer; thus Ernst Käsemann in The Testament of Jesus] is not a needy petitioner but [Jesus] the divine revealer and therefore the prayer moves over into being an address, admonition, consolation, and prophecy.”

“I have…. finished the work you gave me to do,” he says to God, proclaiming his fidelity to the task assigned (v.4). “I have made your name known” (v.6). In St. John’s gospel Christ has been obedient to his Father in sharing a knowledge of this Father’s glory. His obedience has been this very glory incarnated and made manifest. The result of his embassy will be eternal life to believers. Heavenly glory has burst in on the human race with Jesus’ teaching. With a knowledge of the only true God and the one whom he has sent we are able to pass from death to life. As Jesus goes to the Father he leaves a portion of the Father’s glory behind: the community of faith.

That is a powerful legacy. It has often proved an intimidating one. Fearful of bearing the burden of the glory of God, Christians have taken refuge in a stance of moral superiority or disdain for those who believe otherwise or – desperately – of proving by their unedifying lives that they are really no better than anyone else. Yet all the evidence is that when Christians manifest God’s glory as they are called to do they pay the price. They probably know that instinctively and shrink from the pain. As Canada continues the long work of truth and reconciliation with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, especially with regards to residential schools, there are voices that insist that the schools were, on measure, a good thing. To say otherwise is abjection, self-immolation, flailing. To listen to the voices of those who survived the schools, however, is a painful matter, especially for the Churches who ran them. To listen to the truth and to act on it is a form of “suffering for the name.”

Public morality is a very complex question. So is private. Both can be made to make a little sense in light of the paschal deed that was done for us. In the cross and resurrection God’s glory has been made manifest and our terrible need has been laid bare.