Cycle A: Seventh Sunday of Easter

Father glorify your Son

John 17:1-11a

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does the phrase “the glory of God” mean to you? Where have you seen the glory of God?
  2. How does Jesus’ prayer make you feel about the connection between the Father, Jesus and You?
  3. What do you see as the core mission of Jesus that you are carrying on in your life?
  4. There is a saying; “we must be in the world, but not of the world”. What does this mean for you in light of this passage from John?

Biblical Context

John 17:1-11a
Sr. Mary M. McGlone CSJ

The setting for today’s Gospel is still Jesus’ last meal with his disciples on the night before he dies. In today’s reading Jesus is not speaking to the disciples directly; rather he is praying to his Father. The disciples, and we, overhear the prayer. Many scripture scholars point out the similarities between Jesus’ discourse during his last meal with the disciples and what is known as a farewell discourse. A farewell discourse is a literary form in which a person of prominence says good-bye to his followers.

Once more John is insisting on Jesus’ divinity. Remember that the question of Jesus’ divinity is causing disruption in the lives of John’s audience. John insists that Jesus is God: Jesus and the Father are one. Remember that John’s Gospel begins by teaching that Jesus is the preexistent Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Now, Jesus asks his Father, “glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” Jesus refers to his own preexistence.

To pray that God will glorify Jesus is to pray that God will make Jesus’ divinity visible. The phrase God’s glory is used in the Old Testament to refer to any visible manifestation of God’s presence and protection. In time God’s glory began to refer to a manifestation of God’s saving power. Jesus gives glory to the Father because Jesus is the supreme manifestation of God’s love, faithfulness, and saving power. That is why, in John’s Gospel, Jesus’ glorification is his passion, death, and resurrection. It is through the passion, death, and resurrection that the Son reveals the glory of the Father, and the Father reveals the glory of the Son.

John continues to insist on the indispensable role that Jesus has been given in the salvation of the human race: Jesus prays, “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” John is speaking to those who are actively rejecting belief in Christ and who are expelling their fellow Jews who believe in Jesus’ divinity from the synagogue, thus endangering their lives. This passage would not be equally true in another context, for instance, in the context of those who have never had the opportunity to know Jesus.

As is true in all farewell discourses, the focus changes from the leader to those to whom the leader is passing on his mission. For Jesus’ disciples to continue his work faithfully they will have to believe in his divinity, that is, in his relationship with his Father, as well as in the content of his message: “… the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.” The disciples must hear and understand Jesus’ words in order to carry on his mission.

Jesus then says, “I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me” John uses the phrase the world in a variety of ways in his Gospel. For instance, John has earlier pictured Jesus saying, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son… (John 3:16) The passage in today’s Gospel should not be used to deny the goodness of God’s creation or of the flesh that Jesus himself became. The word world is used here to refer to all that opposes those who have accepted Jesus, to focus Jesus’ prayer specifically on those who have accepted him and who will carry on his mission. Jesus’ prayer is, at the narrative level, for the disciples who are at table with him. However, the prayer is also for John’s audience, and for all generations who have been entrusted with the message that the Father entrusted to Jesus, including us.

Welcome the Holy

Reflection
Jean Vanier

Jesus prays for those who will continue his mission to reveal the Father and the gift of the Holy Spirit, that they may be holy as he is holy. This holiness does not come as we stretch out towards God, but as we welcome the Holy One who comes to dwell in us. We human beings are a mixture of the presence of God and the absence of God, of light and darkness, truth and chaos, goodness and evil, openness and closedness.

No human being in himself or herself is holy or pure. We become holy only through the holiness of God. By ourselves we cannot bridge the gap that separates the finite from the Infinite. God reaches out to us and we become holy as we welcome God who comes to us. This implies that we gradually become emptied of the darkness and selfishness in us, and liberated from the walls around our hearts that separate us from God, from others and from our deepest self. This holiness is not something we can achieve; it is given. It is not reserved for a few strong-willed people, for austere seekers of God, for those who have an official role in the Church, or for those who preach and do advanced theological studies. It is not reserved for those who are well-known mystics or for those who do wonderful things for the poor.

Holiness is for all those who are poor enough to welcome Jesus. It is for people living ordinary lives and who feel lonely. It is for all those who are old, sick, hospitalized or out of work, who open their hearts in trust to Jesus and cry out for his healing love.

“Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

Jean Vanier, Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus. Jean Vanier is the founder of L’Arche, an international network of communities for people with intellectual disabilities.