The Prayer of Jesus
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from 365 Days with the Lord
JESUS raised His eyes to heaven and said, “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, so that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one, as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent Me, and that You loved them even as You loved Me. Father, they are Your gift to Me. I wish that where I am they also may be with Me, that they may see My glory that You gave Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know You, but I know You, and they know that You sent Me. I made known to them Your name and I will make it known, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them and I in them.”
2007 Today’s gospel reading presents the conclusion of Jesus’ High-Priestly Prayer. This last part of the Prayer is centered mostly on the notion of unity. Jesus here prays for the unity of His pilgrim Church. And, because of His great desire for this unity, we, too, must work for Christian unity, for what is called ecumenism. The Second Vatican Council was so concerned about this topic that it made a special document treating it, entitled Decree on Ecumenism (1964). Here are some important declarations contained in that document:
Concerning the practice of ecumenism, the decree begins by saying the following:
“There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart. For it is from newness of attitudes (cf. Eph 4:23), from self-denial and unstinted love, that yearnings for unity take their rise and grow toward maturity. We should therefore pray to the divine Spirit for the grace to be genuinely self-denying, humble, gentle in the service of others, and to have an attitude of brotherly generosity toward them” (n. 7).
Apart from conversion, prayer, and holiness of heart, the Council urges us to study everything we can about our separated brethren (their doctrines, history, liturgy, psychology, cultural background, etc.), and also to meet and discuss with them if we are sufficiently competent. Naturally, not many of us can do this. But one other thing we can do rather easily is to cooperate with non-Catholics.
We have come a long way on this road in the past fifty years by the grace of God. But there is still a long way to go. Let us ask Christ for the courage, the patience, and the humility to go all the way.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328
2008 Jesus comes to the pinnacle of His petitions: That all may be one. We have to be reminded of the need for oneness: We often witness breakdowns of communication in families, enmity among members of the same faith community, dissension in civil society, and hostility between nations. Jesus’ oneness is to overcome all such divisions, especially those within the fold. He wants a unity like that between Himself and the Father. That union of the Father and the Son is heart speaking to heart. Its key is love.
Today’s portion of Jesus’ prayer begins (v. 20) with Jesus praying for those who will believe in Him through the Apostles’ word. It’s been said that the only Gospel some people will read is the way Jesus’ followers live. Denominationalism and sectarianism among Christians are among the world’s greatest scandals. Unless we in the Church have the unity willed by God, we can’t perform the Church’s essential mission: That the world may believe (v. 21). That we may be one, as Jesus and the heavenly Father are one, Jesus has given us the glory which the Father gave Him (v. 22). When Christians preserve God’s unity in love that Jesus has given, we’re the continuation of Christ as mediator and revealer of God: We show the world that He was sent by God (v. 23).
Jesus concludes His prayer (v. 25) with confidence that His heavenly Father will deal rightly with those who have accepted the revelation of God in Him. Even as death approaches, He sounds the note of triumph that He shall live and, through the Paraclete who is to come, will continue to make known God’s name (v. 26).
SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328
2009 That they may be one: The priestly prayer of Jesus (Jn 17:1-26) is centered on the disciples whom he calls his very own—the Father’s gift to him. Setting his eyes on the future, Jesus also prays for those who will come to faith through his disciples’ word.
Of the evangelists, it is Luke who emphasizes the chain of tradition from Jesus to the disciples and to the future believers. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke records the growth of the Church. Yet even in John, it is clear that the disciples who are with Jesus are commissioned to preach to peoples and lead them to faith. The Paraclete bears witness to Jesus not in a purely spiritual way but by inspiring the disciples to do the witnessing.
Mention of “other disciples” echoes the earlier declaration of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). The “voice” of the shepherd is his “word” which the disciples proclaim. It is a dynamic force that is heard by the sheep of Jesus’ flock (10:3) and gives them spirit and life (6:63).
2010 THAT THEY MAY BE ONE
Jesus claims that the strength and credibility of his mission is founded on this: he and the Father are one. This oneness is not simply based on the fact that Jesus was sent by the Father, and that, therefore, his words and works are according to the Father’s will. It is based on something primordial: a unity of essence, a profound union in the Godhead. The Gospel of John underlines this point (Jn 1:1; 8:24, 29; 10:33, 38; 14:9-10; 17:11, 21).
In the Priestly Prayer, Jesus prays not only for the first disciples, but for the community of believers gathered by the witness of the first disciples. He prays that this ekklesia (church) may truly be a revelation of his mission by its oneness. The author of the Letters of John, in fact, writes later that true experience of God in Jesus leads all to a “sharing of life” (Greek koinonia) (1 Jn 1:1-4). This is the central idea in the author’s view of authentic mystical and spiritual life. Union with God in Jesus must show itself not only in a person’s life of faith, but, above all, in the person’s love for his brethren (1 Jn 1:7; 4:7-21).
2012 That they may all be one. Jesus prays for unity among his followers. He desires communion of sharing and of being together. And he gives a lasting example in his union with the Father. Jesus acts in accordance with the Father’s will. He submits himself to the guidance and care of the Father. And this is what he wills his disciples to do.
We are to be in communion with God. Our life must be connected, attuned, and always related to the will of the Father.
And we are to be in communion with one another. We are a people called together by the Lord to be community and imbued with the spirit of oneness and sharing. We share in one another’s burdens, successes, defeats, and triumphs. “No man is an island,” we say, “no man stands alone.” We are one family under the fatherhood of God, and we have only one true home—heaven.
Let us not separate ourselves from others because we have different views and opinions or because we think we are superior or inferior to them. Let us not hide from others for fear of being used. We are one for God. We are one for all.
What can you do to heal the wounds of division?
2013 That they may be one, as we are one. Jesus expresses in this prayer his profoundest desire for us. He wants us to be one as he and the Father are one in the Holy Spirit. He wants us to be completely one in faith, hope, and love, despite our diversity. He wants us to be one in him and in his Father: “I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one.”
Unfortunately, Christ’s prayer has not been fully realized. Believers in Jesus have split in many Christian groups. Because of this division, many who should be brought to believe in Jesus through the witness of Christian unity are prevented from believing in Jesus. We should feel in our hearts the wound of the disunity of Christians and Christian churches and should pray as Jesus did.
Pray for the unity of all Christians n the visible unity of the one Church of Christ.
2014 THAT THEY MAY BE ONE. “Ut unum sint!” This prayer of Jesus has become a popular slogan. It is also behind the ecumenical movement towards Christian unity in the Church after Vatican Council II.
What does it mean to be one? Jesus prays for unity not only of his disciples but also of those who will believe in him through their word. It means that the Church or the community of disciples is not simply an offshoot of Jesus’ ministry. It is already in the heart of Jesus—and in the heart of God—from the beginning.
Commenting on Caiaphas’ advice to the Sanhedrin that it is better for the Jews that one man (Jesus) should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish, the evangelist declares that Jesus will indeed die, but not according to the calculation of the high priest. Jesus will die for God’s purpose, and that is to gather into one the dispersed children of God—Jews and Greeks alike.
“In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.” (“Unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things.”)
2016 That they may all be one. Jesus is very realistic. He knows that religion does not necessarily unite but often causes division. In his time, Judaism is split into many groups: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Samaritans, to mention only a few. He knows that even his own disciples are not always united. He sees his followers interpreting his teachings in different ways and ending up in splintered groups. He realizes that competition, envy, and jealousy will result in divisions among his followers. Hence, his fervent prayer for unity. The Second Vatican Council has stressed the importance of working to help bring this prayer of Jesus to reality. In Ut Unum Sint, his 1995 encyclical on commitment to ecumenism, St. John Paul II wrote, “The call for Christian unity made by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council with such impassioned commitment is finding an ever greater echo in the hearts of believers… Christ calls all his disciples to unity. My earnest desire is to renew this call today, to propose it once more with determination” (n 1). Prayer and dialogue are necessary, but the encyclical stresses the basic condition for unity: “The change of heart which is the essential condition for every authentic search for unity flows from prayer and its realization is guided by prayer. ‘For it is from newness of attitudes, from self-denial and unstinted love, that yearnings for unity take their rise and grow towards maturity’ ” (n 26).
“Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11).
Source: “366 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328
2018 They are your gift to me
The literal translation from Greek is “those whom you have given me.” They are human beings of flesh and blood, not objects, not presents. Jesus recognizes his disciples as given by the Father. They must be precious. He is praying for them. He prays for their unity, harmony, and integrity. They must be able to imitate his oneness with the Father.
This constitutes their perfection. Jesus cannot afford to see his disciples divided and at odds with one another.
Jesus prays that all his adherents, old and new, will be united to him. They, too, are entitled to see his glory.
Their unity will make them his credible witnesses to the unbelieving world. Those who will come to believe because of their preaching – Jesus also prays for them. He will have special affection for them. The converts who join them will be integrated into their community. As a result, the believers will increase in numbers. More will give witness to Jesus. In this way, the world that opposes Jesus will realize at the end that he is God-sent and that he is loved by the Father. The unity of the disciples, in faith and action, will make them powerful witnesses and will disprove the world.
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Can you join Jesus in his priestly prayer that is the Christian prayer of unity?
Do you consider other believers as God’s gift to you?
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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328
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