“For this cause, He came into the world.”
“For this death?” asks Ben-Hur.
“For this beginning,” replies the wise man.
Today’s readings, on the last weekday of the Easter season, contain the endings of their respective books: the Acts of the Apostles (16-20, 30-31) and the Gospel according to Saint John (21:20-25).
But both endings seem odd in their incompleteness.
The book of Acts ends with Saint Paul proclaiming Christ in Rome with scarcely any hint that he would be executed there.
The Gospel ends with a frank admission that it is an incomplete telling of Christ’s life.
There are many reasons for the incompleteness of these endings, but a key reason is that what is described in these divinely-inspired books is indeed only the beginning: our Lord would ascend into Heaven and His Apostles would begin the evangelization of the world; the Apostles would extend that evangelization even into the heart of Western pagan civilization, but it would be their successors who would continue that work into all the distant corners or the world.
These endings are beginnings, for the mission of Christ continues on.
These endings remind us that responsibility for carrying on the mission of Christ in our time has passed to us.
And no matter what stage we may be in our lives, this responsibility is still only beginning.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to me – a sinner.
Holy Apostles of God, pray for us.