Be on guard . . . Consecrate yourselves.
Both sets of words appear in the readings for the day. Both readings also lead to impending departure. Paul is about to leave the Ephesus community, “never to see his face again” (Acts 20: 38). Jesus is speaking to his disciples just before his arrest and death by crucifixion.
The final message of a loved one about to leave, or from one who has already left, makes a deep impression. “Be on guard.” Be watchful over “yourselves, and over the whole flock the Holy Spirit has given you. . .” (Acts 20: 28). Don’t be lulled into complacency. There are “savage wolves” (Acts 20–29) ready to attack, eager to take away what is precious to you. Even those of your own company try to “distort” Acts 20: 30) the truth. Be advised, you who hear the shepherd’s voice and want to follow his way, be on guard. Give of yourself. Serve others, particularly the weak and the needy. Work hard. Stay alert to “the words of the Lord Jesus . . . There is more happiness in giving than receiving” (Acts 20: 35). Then you will sing!
“Consecrate yourselves,” “Consecrate them” by means of the truth. Keep yourselves for holiness, for godliness. Keep your eye on Jesus. He acquired you “at the price of his own blood” (Acts 20: 28). He will preserve you for himself. He lost no one, except “him who was destined to be lost” (Jn 17: 12).
Choose the one whom you will follow: the world or God. Choose: your own way or Jesus’ example. Choose: the “evil one” or “truth.”
Follow Jesus. Reach out to teach and to heal, to listen and to love, to feed and to satisfy, to retreat and to pray and to bring home.
Consecrate yourself as Jesus did, for the sake of the Kingdom. Consecrate yourself and “share my joy completely” (John 17: 13).
Sr. Barbara Ann Hoying, CPPS