A Reading from the Gospel of John 17:11-19
“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. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”
Opening Prayer: Graciously grant to your Church, O, merciful God, that, gathered by the Holy Spirit, she may be devoted to you with all her heart and united in purity of intent. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen
As I look at our divided world, where not even those who believe in Christ are united, I join Jesus in this prayer, begging the gift of unity among Christians. I bring to my prayer any situation that needs healing and the overcoming of division, as I am aware that I am joining my prayer to that of Jesus himself.
How often we feel like giving up on this difficult world of ours, so resistant to the gospel and its values. Yet Jesus, fully aware that we share his same lot of being hated by the world, does not ask the Father to remove us from the world, but to protect us, as we do our best to carry out our mission in the world.
Jesus lifted up his heart, prayed to his Father, and begged him on our behalf to “keep them in your name that you have given me.” Jesus’ name is the one by which “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend (Philippians 2:9-10).
In these final chapters of John’s Gospel, Jesus is trying to sum up what his life and mission is all about. He speaks at length of the bond between him and his Father and it is from this bond of love that he is ‘sent’.
Jesus tells us that we too are ‘sent’ to continue his mission. Friendship with Jesus is being with him, and being sent in his name. Our mission as his followers is in the midst of and in the depths of the world. He wants his love and message inserted in the centre of the world, the city, the neighborhoods. In following him in mission and love, we are ourselves are sanctified.
The name of Jesus is different from other names, for it is what it signifies: Jesus (Y’shua in Hebrew) is “savior, deliverer”; he redeemed us and rescued us. When we whisper the Jesus Prayer: “Jesus, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” we invoke a name that is powerful in protecting us from evil and darkness. We can whisper this prayer, or simply his name, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!
Pope Frances reminds us that the Spirit “does not remove evil with a magic wand”; instead “he pours into us the vitality of life, which is not the absence of problems, but the certainty of being loved and always forgiven by Christ, who for us has conquered sin, death and fear.” The reality of the risen Christ is that,
from now on, nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from his love.
This chapter of John’s gospel presents Jesus as the giver of divine life. He possesses the fullness of Godly life. This is what he leaves to us in his flesh and blood, the Eucharist. Prayer unites us to the sacrifice of Jesus who, all through his life, not just at Calvary, gave himself to us as teacher, healer, and protector – always as a loving friend.
Jesus desired that his disciples share the fullness of his joy by sharing in his Trinitarian life, “because they do not belong to the world.” Jesus called his disciples to follow him on a path that renounced earthly goods. He knew that the world would hate them, for their mission was to follow Christ and find their joy in him, and not in the attractions of the world. Their joy was fulfilled in discovering their mission to share Christ with others, and the early Christians did this as they “devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers”. Simple Christian living in small community home churches spread through the whole world. We can imitate their devotion by sharing our joy in Christ with others, especially those in our parish and our neighborhood.
Jesus is praying for me, for us! So often we ask others to pray for us, for we believe their prayer will benefit us. We trust the prayer of those who we believe are closer than us to God. Now we know that Jesus himself is praying for us. Trust in Jesus in his prayer for us. Thank him for his care for us, as we link our prayers to his.