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
At the Last Supper, after the departure of Judas the betrayer, Jesus knowing that the climax of His earthly ministry was only a few hours away, prayed to His Father. Today’s gospel reading is part of the prayer of Jesus. In this part, Jesus prayed for His disciples and all who would later come to believe in Him. His prayer centered on four points as follows: (a) unity among all His believers, (b) that the unity may reveal Him 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 observed arguments as to who was the greatest among His apostles and 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 growth. 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 comes from the agonizing heart of Jesus Christ!
(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 proclaim the same message. Hence, a key reason of Jesus’ concern for Christian unity is “so that the world may believe that you 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 sacrifice towards the eventually realization of the visible unity that reveals the true person of Christ to the world! Until then the dissenting voices of the myriad of churches and sects may blur the image of Christ 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 Christ is 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 spectacles 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, may each of us foster unity among all Christians, proclaim that Christ 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