Our Gospel reading is taken from John (Chapter 17 verses 1-17). Following our celebration of Jesus’ ascension to heaven last Thursday (Ascension Day), today in our scripture reading we are taken back to a significant prayer offered by Jesus to his Father. In our reading, we find ourselves included in an intimate conversation between Jesus and his Father.
For the Gospel writer, this prayer is Jesus’ final word, although we find it before Jesus’ death. In many ways, it seems that in this prayer Jesus has already begun his journey back to his Father.
Jesus glorified God by making God known and challenging the world. Jesus was confident the disciples would continue this mission when he had left them. In doing so, Jesus could say to the Father that the disciples were keeping his word. Jesus asks God to protect them.
It’s a prayer that the followers of Jesus should be included in the unity that exists between Jesus and God. Just as the Father gives life to the Son, so Christians are one with one another and with the Father and the Son because they have received this life. Jesus is not merely telling his disciples about life in union with him and how to attain it. He is actually imparting it to them. Through this prayer, the disciples and all Christians are being incorporated with Christ into the life of God. All of this is based on Jesus’ relationship with his Father. That should be the model of our own relationship with God. We learn that as we embark upon such a relationship we are drawn into the sphere of eternal life which begins not after death, but in the here and now.
The prayer of Jesus is one we must hear over and over again to fully understand the commission he gives to us and the fact he is continually praying for our protection and strengthening.
During lockdown we have been given direct instructions on how to act and what to do to avoid the possible spread of the Coronavirus. Despite the fact some Senior Government Advisors seem to believe they are exempt from these instructions, the vast majority of people have heard and understood them, and done a superb job in protecting one another whilst strengthening the health of our nation. Through our solidarity and commitment to one another we have become incorporated into a unique shared experience. We can be proud of what we have achieved and I call upon you all to continue to think about your neighbours health as much as your own as we move forward together in these difficult times.
As we give thanks for Jesus’ prayer, his imparted teaching and his faith in us, let us through our faith in him and in one another continue to do the right thing. Protect your loved ones and neighbours and in turn our common and eternal life.