( A commentary on John 17: 1-11)
When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. (John 17:1-11)
It is the night before His crucifixion. Knowing all that he does, Jesus Christ turns to his father in heaven and prays these words. What are they about?
You and me!
Jesus’ language for this is ‘eternal life’ and points to a life-beyond-life found in relationship with God. Jesus believes his relationship-establishing journey from heaven to earth is finding fulfilment in these nervous, uncomprehending, disciples.
He can see that the Father’s name is ‘known’ by them; that they have ‘kept’ God’s word, and; that ‘they have received’ and ‘known’ that Jesus is from heaven.
He prays to God for the protection of this fledgling faith. Jesus will soon be taken from them. Soldiers and nails will cause them to scatter.
But Jesus has boldly asked for the preservation of their oneness. He has kept them together this far. It is now the turn of the Father.
And if this divine parent is anything like the Son this prayer is entrusting them to the best, most gracious, and gentle hands in the universe.
You and I, as followers of Christ, have been entrusted to the very hands of God.
Entrusted to the hands of God as one. A community of believers and a community of followers who seek to live his gospel of love.
But do we?
As followers, we are called to the great command pf loving God and loving our neighbor.
Is that what we find today?
Our differences with others are no longer boundaries of opinion, they are walls of shame. Walls of shame to those who bear his name as Christians.
Followers of Christ.
As Christians, we betray Him every time we use labels, evert time we draw a distinction with another that separates us, either verbally or in reality. Sometimes it is very open and we take our stand. Often, it is subtle and we use a label to justify our distinction.
There is only one distinction and it trumps everything else. It is oneness. Oneness in love of Him. And love is the only thing that binds us to him. And its love that can overcome division.
We are entrusted to God himself. Everything we do, say, or think reveals how we return his love.
We are commanded to abandon our pride and the presumption of always having the last word, and to try to listen to the Word of Another.
The words of Jesus Christ. The words of love for us by the one who gave his life for us that we may be one.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, unite me forever to your sacred heart. You have made me one with you. Absorb this tiny drop of life into the ocean of goodness from whence it came”( Prayer of Francis de Sales)
When we look at these words of love of Jesus from this perspective, he is asking us to love and to forgive others and then to hold them fast. He is asking us to do this communally, as a Church. The primary sacrament of forgiveness for the early Church and for us is the sacrament of baptism. When we are baptized into Christ Jesus, the bond of sin that can enslave us is broken. After baptism it is the responsibility of the Church to “hold fast” those who are baptized. Jesus commands us to hold on to one another, and this is both a privilege and a challenge.