Year C: Seventh Sunday of Easter
That they may be brought to perfection as one!
John 17: 20-26“Holy Father, 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 perfect 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. 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.”
- When have you personally experienced the pain of disunity in Christ’s body, the church? How did this happen?
- This passage from John emphasizes the multi-level relational unity between the Father, Jesus, his friends, and the world. God’s love- through Jesus’ divinity and his saving acts, becomes visible in the world through our unity as disciples. How do you personally try to foster this kind of relational unity in your church community? What are some new possibilities?
- In this reflection Pat Marrin says that our; “determination to match each spiritual insight with some act of service is the ongoing basis for an authentic discipleship.” How does this statement resonate with you? In what ways are you making connections between your spiritual insights and how you bring them to life in serving others?
John 17:20-26 Margret Nutting Ralph PHDToday’s reading is the end of Jesus’ farewell discourse to the disciples, which we have been reading over the last two Sundays. Jesus prays for those who will come to believe in him through the disciples’ witness: “Holy Father, 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…” In other words, Jesus prays for those who will believe in him through the centuries, including us. If we look carefully at Jesus’ prayer, we can see both why Jesus wants his followers to remain one, and how we might succeed in doing that. The reason unity among Jesus’ followers is all-important is that our ability to witness to Jesus diminishes if we cannot maintain unity with one another. Jesus names this fact twice in today’s reading. He prays that “they may all be one… that the world may believe that you sent me.” He then repeats this prayer, “… that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me ” When Christians fail to be united with one another we are ineffective witnesses of the good news to those who do not yet know Christ. Jesus and the Father are one because they love each other. Jesus prays that those who come to believe in him will be one as the Father and Son are one: “… so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us…. ” This prayer, too, Jesus repeats, “… that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them. We see, then, that the source of unity among Christians is not merely the unity of human affection, or the bond that is formed from mutual effort and cooperation. Rather it is a participation in the mutual love the Father and the Son have for each other. Jesus, as the one who reveals the Father’s love, does not want his followers simply to know that the Father and Son love each other, but to participate in that love, to live in it themselves. As we Christians learn to dwell in that love, we will learn to love one another and come to that unity for which Jesus prayed. Jesus also prays that his followers may be with him so that, they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” To see the glory of God is to witness God’s saving acts, to witness some visible manifestation of God’s divinity. In John’s Gospel Jesus’ glorification is his passion, death, and resurrection, because this is the manifestation of God’s greatest saving act. Through Jesus God has redeemed the world. However, the world has not received its Savior. Nevertheless, as John claims in his prologue: the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) Only if we, Jesus’ disciples, live in unity will Jesus’ glory, Jesus’ divinity and his saving acts, become a visible manifestation to the world of the Father’s saving love.
“This Is Who We Are”
Reflection Pat MarrinThe farewell discourse in John’s Gospel dovetails with the mysterious event of the Ascension recorded in Luke-Acts. Jesus’ departure from history marks the transfer of his presence and mission into his disciples. Just as the Spirit overshadowed Mary at the conception of Jesus, so the same Spirit overshadows the disciples. They are conceived and born as the church, the body of Christ in the world. Jesus reassures his followers that despite his physical absence, he will not leave them orphans. An orphan is bereft of family support. They, in fact, are now God’s beloved children, sharing in Jesus’ own Sonship through baptism and by virtue of the Spirit. They can cry out, “Abba — Father,” in his voice and name, and God will hear their prayers just as he heard Jesus. The interval between Ascension and Pentecost becomes the most important retreat time in the church year. The whole mystery is present, but in order to receive it we need to pray and absorb the gift as a community. God’s mysterious plan is to incorporate us into the Incarnation, to make us the sacramental extension of Jesus’ redemptive restoration of the world. We are invited to enter God’s glory. Glory is another word for God’s self-revelation. As God revealed the divine plan for the world in Jesus, we are now revealed to be in the divine plan that will reclaim creation and human purpose from the disorientation and distortions of sin, from self-centered to God-centered existence. Our experience of this glorious new identity and role in Christ is reinforced each time we celebrate liturgy. We gather with Christ, our head, at the altar of his sacrificial death and the table of risen life shared with us in the Eucharist. We know him — and ourselves — in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup. The pattern of his death and resurrection is imprinted on our lives. Every word and action we carry from this center has redemptive value. As God loves Jesus, Jesus loves us, and as Jesus loves us, we in turn love one another. The sign of this emanating love flows from the Eucharist in us to a world longing for the reorientation in God that heals and restores all relationships and brings peace where there was only disorder and anxiety. This sweeping vision must be lived to be understood. Liturgy that remains only in word and symbol is like unread scripture and unconsecrated bread and wine. The Eucharist, for all its fullness, remains unfinished if we do not live it. The glory we glimpse in the beauty of the Mass can only be grasped when we carry it — translate it — from sign to active love. The Mass is revealed in the corporal works of mercy. The paschal mystery of dying with Christ is felt when we risk our pride to seek or offer forgiveness, or when we lose ourselves, our time and energy to respond to the often inconvenient needs of others. A determination to match each spiritual insight with some act of service is the ongoing basis for an authentic discipleship. If we live what we believe, we will grow day-by-day, offering-by-offering, act-by-act, into a full partner in the gracious work of Jesus in our small corner of the world. Solemnities like the Ascension or Pentecost remain just words if they are not realized in us. Each time someone sees Christ in us, the mystery of his continued presence in the world is made visible. Each time we breathe life into some stifled or suffocating situation where love and hope are absent, we bring Pentecost to others. This is who we are and what we do. Selections from Breaking Open the Lectionary: Lectionary Readings in Their Biblical Context for RCIA, Faith Sharing Groups, and Lectors—Cycle C, by Margaret Nutting Ralph, Copyright © 2006 by Margaret Nutting Ralph. Paulist Press, Inc., New York/Mahwah, NJ. Reprinted by permission of Paulist Press, Inc. www.paulistpress.com.