THEME: JESUS’ PRAYER AT THE LAST SUPPER
READINGS: Acts 7:55-60/ Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20/ John 17:20-26
7th Sunday of Easter
There were four main farewell activities on the eve of our Lord Jesus’ crucifixion – namely, the Last Supper, the washing of feet, His farewell message and His priestly prayer. Today’s gospel reading is an extract of the priestly prayer which was meant to reassure His disciples. This portion of the priestly prayer centered on four points: (a) unity among all His believers, (b) that the unity may reveal Jesus as the One sent by the Father, (c) that believers may enjoy the heavenly glory with Him and (d) that believers may share in divine love.
(a) Unity among all His believers: Jesus prayed to His Father “that they [Christians] may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us” (John 17:21; NRSV). The Lord, who had earlier on observed arguments among His apostles regarding who was the greatest, and who had foretold the betrayal by Judas and predicted that the rest of the apostles would desert Him during His passion, knew too well what might happen to His Church in His absence. Consequently, He prayed for unity.
Unfortunately, over the centuries, Christians have not lived in accordance with the Lord’s prayer for unity. Whereas there are efforts through prayers, dialogues on doctrinal matters and common social actions to promote Christian unity, the disunity among Christians seems to have assumed an exponential proportions. Sadly, today, it seems that there are new splits on daily basis in the Church across the globe.
This very gospel passage has been the basis for efforts at Christian unity, but it seems the situation is getting out of hand. How, I wish the leaders of all churches and Christian sects would heed the prayer that came from the agonizing heart of Jesus!
(b) Unity may reveal Jesus as the One sent by the Father: Besides the fact that there is strength in unity, a united voice makes a message more credible than dissenting voices claiming to be messengers of the same Lord. Hence, a key reason of Jesus’ concern for Christian unity is “so that the world may believe that you [Father] have sent me. …so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me” (John 17:21-23).
How I wish this could convict leaders of the various churches and sects to sincerely work and make the required sacrifice towards the eventually realization of the visible unity that reveals the true person of Jesus to the world! Until then the dissenting voices of the myriad of churches and sects may blur the image of Jesus in the eyes of many who seek salvation. In other words, the dissenting voices may be too noisy to distract some seekers of salvation.
(c) Believers may enjoy the heavenly glory with Jesus: The mission of Jesus was to draw many souls to the glory of heaven. Hence, when the mission was about reaching its climax, He prayed: “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
Beloved, may we one day be granted the eternal grace of life in heaven, where we will behold the glory of the Lord forever.
(d) Believers may share in divine love: To see the heavenly glory of Jesus is not to be eternal spectators in heaven but to share in the very love of God forever. Hence, Jesus prayed: “Righteous Father… I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:25-26).
Finally, therefore, may each of us foster unity among all Christians, proclaim that Jesus is the unique Saviour sent by the Father and eventually enjoy heavenly glory by sharing in the eternal love of God. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis