7thwk of Easter
Week before Pentecost
Chapter 17 of John’s Gospel is the center of this week’s readings; it is called the “Priestly Prayer” of Jesus. As we follow this prayer verse by verse, we have a glimpse of the Heart of Jesus feeling concern and care for his apostles whom he is about to leave first for his passion and death, then second for his ascension. Jesus addresses the Father, (v.2) “you gave him authority over all people.” His words were spoken, and his deeds were done with authority from the Father. The purpose, “so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.” Jesus came to save, so that we may have life to the full. What is required of us? “That they should know you, the only true God and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (v.3). Isaiah already made this statement six hundred years ago: “For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior” (43:3); “Was it not I, the Lord, besides whom there is no other God? There is no just and saving God but me” (45:21b). The apostles “belonged to you and you gave them to me and they have kept your word” (Jn 17:6). This reminds us of Jesus’ words, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him” (6:44). “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” (17:8). To receive the eternal life that Jesus gives, I must believe in Jesus, accept him as my Lord and Savior sent by the Father; accept and keep his words as the truths from the Father.
“I pray for them… Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are” (17:11). Even now Jesus intercedes for his Church at the right hand of the Father. “I protected them in your name … and I guarded them” (17:12). How much Jesus loves his own! We should be trustful. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one” (17:16). We do not run away from the battle, but remain and trust that in the name of Jesus we will conquer the evil one. “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth” (17:17)… And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (17:19). Only the truth from God can set us free. Very often we solve problems with immediate superficial solutions, even violating solid eternal truths – marital problems by divorce, emotional problems by alcohol or drugs, and thus creating more problems than making solutions.In this part of his prayer, Jesus asks the Father to keep them in his name, keep them from the evil one, and consecrate them in the truth.
(“As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world” (17:18), we will look at this on Pentecost Sunday.)
In this second part of his prayer, Jesus prays for the unity of the whole Church, including all those who will believe in the proclamation of the apostles. “I pray … 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 one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (17:20-21). All the baptized, all the believers are called to be one in Jesus and in the Father. In vv 22-23, Jesus adds more details, “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 that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” The glory of Jesus given by the Father, he also gave to his disciples and it helps in the unity –I in them and you in me, and “you loved them even as you loved me.” We have to picture this oneness for ourselves. God wants that we truly and intimately be members of his household, members of his family. This is the final end of the command: “Love one another as I love you.” We shall allbe one household, one family with God. “Father,… I wish that where I am they also may be with me…” (v.24), already spoken by Jesus in Jn 14:3; Jesus wants to bring us home to the eternal mansions of the Father. Jn 17:26 makes this prayer complete when Jesus says, “I made known to them your name and I will make it know, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” The Love of the Father for the Son is the Person of the Holy Spirit. It means therefore that seeing the Holy Spirit and Jesus in us, it will be easy for the Father to love us. Mo. Teresa tells us, that seeing Jesus in the poorest of the poor, it was easy for her to serve them for she saw that she was serving Jesus. This brings to fulfillment what St Paul says in Eph 2:19 “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.” This is God’s plan for us in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Let us open ourselves to this loving plan and surrender ourselves to him.
Fr. Huberto Decena, OAR