There was a famous commercial, back in the 70’s by a hair care product called Faberge Organic shampoo. The tv image started with the head shot of one young woman saying how much she liked the product and how she told two friends. She then said that they told two friends, and they told two friends. “and so on, and so on … The image kept growing exponentially with each new set of head shots growing by two people for each woman.
As you can imagine the number grew very rapidly. It was not just doubled it was actually tripled. Two became 6 and 6 became 18 and 18 became 54. You can see how this small initial number became quite large quite rapidly.
The commercial was cute, but the concept was inspiring.
Sort of like the “chain letters of our youth. My guess is that we all remember, and probably responded to at least one, chain letter. I don’t remember the particulars, but it was something like you received a letter with names and address listed on it. You would send some specified amount of money to everyone on the list, cross off the top name, add your own name and mail it to ten friends not on the list. The ten friends would then do the same.
As I recall the only thing that ever happened was that I was out $2.50 but the concept was powerful. It was the idea that a single, simple, manageable action could have an exponentially greater result.
Today’s gospel reminds me of these two concepts. “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us”. It is as if He is saying that He not only prays for these but for their two friends. And not only for those two friends but also their two friends. And so on and so on …”
The obvious difference, and where the similarities end, is that instead of full bodied, great smelling hair, “I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one.”
Not that I have anything against the nice hair thing, but I think that I will go for the “may be one, as we are one” thing.
The message for us in this reading is the reference to the “will believe in me through their words.” I am always inclined to try and remember to include our actions into this reference, as sometime our actions speak louder than our words, but nevertheless it is our words that help people believe.
In the first reading Paul is being tried for his words. And while all those present are initially unified in his conviction their arguing over the use of words distracts, divides and ultimately spares Paul’s life that day.
The power of words is inescapable. So often the gospels extol us to go forth: second Corinthians – But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. Mark 16 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. And Matthew 24 – And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
And while this may seem like a daunting task, something too great for any one person, all that we have to do is to remember that all we have to do is to tell two friends.
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
June 2, 2022
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