The Gospel according to John (17:20-26)
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “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, that the world may believe that you sent me. And 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. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”
Reflection: This beautiful passage comes at the end of John’s seventeenth chapter. It is known as The Prayer of Jesus. This prayer follows several chapters that contain Jesus’ final moments before the beginning of his passion. He is trying to prepare them for what life will be like after all of this. He is now praying to the Father for his beloved companions and all who will benefit from their efforts to participate in the mission he fulfilled in his coming, death, and resurrection. He is asking the Father never to allow him and his friends to be separated, even though He is returning to the Father. He is asking to share eternal life with them.
Have you ever loved someone so much that you could never see yourself without them. Maybe it is a spouse, a son or daughter, grandchild, best friend, or any of a number of relationships past or present. Hopefully we have all been blessed with such a love. This is but a glimpse into how much we are loved by the one who came to save us and by the one who sent him. And to make sure we never forget he sent The Holy Spirit to remind us of this beautiful truth. We are loved to Infinity and beyond!!
Jesus’ heartfelt plea for those he loves is an invitation to participate in the Trinitarian love shared by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A love so deep, so passionate, so complete that it reflects the possibilities that exist only in heaven. But while we, who are currently here, continue to struggle against the challenges of this world we can experience that same love through each other and through the endless opportunities to participate in his mission of salvation. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another. And while we were still sinners Jesus did this for all who accept his gracious call to follow him.
Action of the day: Take some time to read this passage slowly and listen to the passion in Jesus’ plea for all who love him. He wants us as much as he did those he befriended and loved back then. May this realization continue to transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Now go and make believers out of those he sends you. Heaven is not as far as you think.