Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

7th SUNDAY OF EASTER: THE PRIESTLY PRAYER OF JESUS

Jn 17: 11b-19


AS THE EASTER season draws to a close, we hear from one of the most magnificent passages in the Gospel of John—namely, the high priestly prayer of Jesus the night of the Last Supper. It is called as the ‘priestly prayer’ because Jesus is shown as praying for his apostles, the first priests. It is by far the longest discourse by Jesus anywhere in the New Testament, and it contains the seeds of Christian spirituality in its entirety.

Firstly, Jesus prays for unity among his disciples. He says, “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.” Yes, Jesus has revealed something about his relationship with the Father. They are so united to each other; even when Jesus became man, they remain close to each other. They remain one. And Jesus hopes and prays that the disciples would also live in unity.

This is a continuing struggle among Christians. Some Christians have no the same contents of beliefs, they have no the same ministry, and not all are in communion with the Pope. Divisions among Christians are a betrayal of the very unity that Jesus dies for. Divisions are a scandal that prevents people from accepting the gospel. During the pontificate of John Paul II, he wrote the encyclical, Ut Unum Sint (That They May Be One). He outlined in that documents what Christians have shared, and what they still need to work out so that the unity will be restored. His dream was that one day all Christians would celebrate one holy Eucharist. Perhaps, we can ask ourselves, “What small step can we take to reach out to other Christians?”

Secondly, Jesus prays for protection of his disciples. He says, “Father, I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” Jesus makes it very clear that he is not asking that they be removed from the world’s environment, only that they be protected from its evil influences.  It is only by being in the world that they will be able to communicate the Gospel message. They were called to be “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”.

Jesus says that Christians are “in” the world, but not “of” the world. That means that Christians have a mission in the world. They are to bring the gospel message in the world. But, they are not meant to be drawn or carried away by the world. Christian teaching should not be compromised in relation to the worldly values or the values of the world.

Thirdly, Jesus prays, “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.” Jesus prays that they be consecrated in truth, the truth of God himself. Truth, in the eyes of the world, has become more and more relative. I have the truth, and you have the truth. And my truth is not the same as what you hold as true.

But, Jesus is the Truth, the ultimate truth. The truth that Jesus prays for does only not consist in a set of teachings.  Rather, it consists in the living out lives of perfect integrity and wholeness, in perfect harmony with the will of the Father and the Way of Jesus and dedicated to bringing that truthfulness and integrity to the world.  They do this by living a life of love, a love expressed in service to all.

After the Lord’s Ascension to heaven, God sent the Holy Spirt to the disciples and the Church. We continue to pray for the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit of God can transform us and truly make us one.  Only when we choose to live in the Spirit can we choose to live in truth.  Only be asking the Spirit to be in our lives and to guide our lives can we truly be followers of the Lord Jesus. AMEN. 


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