A reading and a reflection
St John 17: 1 – 19
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Jesus has been preparing his disciples for his impending death. In John’s gospel his words have been of challenge and comfort ‘I am telling you the truth: you will cry and weep, but the world will be glad; you will be sad, but your sadness will turn to gladness’.
Jesus now turns in prayer to God his Father, gathering his friends’ fears and forebodings into a place of comfort. Awful as the events to come are (Jesus has already predicted that in his hour of greatest trial his friends will desert him), they are to remember that within them God and his Son are at work. The glory of the bond of love between them will be revealed, and the gift of eternal life will come to those who can receive it. This bond of love extends to all Jesus’ friends.
Jesus’ disciples will remain in the world which is to deal so violently with him, so he prays for their protection; not a removal from this world, but to be guarded from the temptation of its evil. So they are ‘in this world’, but not ‘of this world’, for they belong to him.. Their mission will be to speak truth to power, as Jesus himself did.
The late John Eaton says ’Such a mission is only possible in consequence of the mission of Jesus… In this concluding act of prayer, he consecrates himself, making over his body, his life, to be a sacrifice for the world’s salvation. Truth, like a power released from the cross, will take and hold them in God, the truth which is the divine faithfulness, the word of God, the grace given through the Son’.
when our time to speak out comes,
may it be known to us.
Hold us in your love as you held your Son,
so that in speaking truth to power
we may speak fearlessly
and bear witness to your truth and love