Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C.

Jn 17: 20 – 26

To read the gospel with an open mind is to see beyond all possibilities of doubt that You, Jesus, came to bring us, not only a new life, but also, a new physical power of acting upon our world.
Speak Lord, your servant is listening.
You have the words of eternal life.

Chapter 17 of John’s gospel is sometimes titled, Jesus’ Prayer, by the editors of the particular edition of the Bible.  It is the climax of John’s account of the Last Supper.  Today’s reading is made up of the first verse and the last seven verses of this chapter.

1Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

“Holy Father, 20I pray not only for these, but for those who through their words will believe in me. 21May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me. 22I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. 23With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realize that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.

24Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25Father, Righteous One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. 26I have made your name known to them and I will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.

In our everyday talking to each other we usually succeed in making ourseves understood.  However, when we turn to religious topics we often use the ‘right words’ without really understanding the meaning of what we are saying. One such word is ‘glory’ and closely related to it is, ‘eternal life’.

In your imagination place yourself in the front row at a university graduation ceremony.  As a parent you listen to the master of ceremonies as he extols the glorious achievements of your son or daughter. Again and again he is interrupted by spontaneous applause for your child’s achievements. Your child is covered in glory and so are you. You are smiling all over. You bask in the glory of what your child has done.

Perhaps this gives some insight into how God feels about our achievements. Our God wants us to live out our lives to the fullest. He wants us to be the very best that we can.  He wants us to make the best use of the many talents he has showered upon us and in so doing to make life better for all those around us. This is eternal life.

I pray not only for these (you and I), but for those who through their (our) words will believe in me.

In chapter 17: 3 we are told, “And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” If we really know Jesus we will certainly model our lives on his example. In 15: 8  we are told, “By this is my Father glorified that you bear much fruit.”

This is the fruit that we will bear.

This world will be a better place for our having passed through it.

Our kindness to others will be reflected in the lives of others. The prison bars of revenge, resentment, retribution will not dampen our enthusiasm for bringing joy to the world.  Each day we will make God’s presence more tangible. His patient unconditional love for all humanity will be there for all to see and experience. This is the fruit that we will bear.

This wonderful new world is described in the climactic verses of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew’s gospel.

“For I was  hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cured for me, in prison and you visited me.” Mt 25: 35

“I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you should also love one another.
(I have loved them as much as you loved me.)

“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn 13: 34-35

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