John 17: 11-19
Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).
Now I’m returning to you.
I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn’t join the world’s ways,
Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.
I’m not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I’m consecrating myself for their sakes
So they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission.
This chapter of John’s gospel presents Jesus as the giver of divine life. He possesses the fullness of Godly life. This is what he leaves to us in his flesh and blood, the Eucharist. Prayer unites us to the sacrifice of Jesus who, all through his life, not just at Calvary, gave himself to us as teacher, healer, protector – always as loving friend. What is your favourite title for Jesus? Repeat that sometimes in prayer and bring it through the day like a lingering line of a song or a tune.
Jesus is like a good friend here. He wants to keep us with him, just as none of us want to lose a friend. Friendship with Jesus is being with him, and being sent in his name. Our mission as his followers is in the midst of and in the depths of the world. He wants his love and message inserted in the centre of the world, the city, the neighbourhood. In following him in mission and love, we are ourselves sanctified. Prayer helps and completes this daily sanctification, in our growing in closeness to him.
Jesus’ first prayer was for those who were with him in the Last Supper room. He prays that they always be in communion with God and for their protection from the evil that surrounds them every day. Like ourselves, they are to find closeness with God and protection from harm even in the midst of the world.