May 28, 2006 - Year B - Easter 7

John 17:6-19

I have made your name known to those you gave me from the world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they kept your word. And now they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you. I have given them the teaching I received from you, and they received it and know in truth that I came from you; and they believe that you have sent me.

I pray for them; I do not pray for the world but for those who belong to you and whom you have given to me – 10 indeed all I have is yours and all you have is mine – and now they are my glory. 11 I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world whereas I am going to you. Holy Father, keep them in your Name (that you have given me,) so that they may be one, just as we are.

12 When I was with them, I kept them safe in your Name, and not one was lost except the one who was already lost, and in this the Scripture was fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you and I leave these my words in the world that my joy may be complete in them.

14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world; just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask you to remove them from the world but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world; 17 consecrate them in the truth – your word is truth.

18 I have sent them into the world as you sent me into the world, 19 and for their sake, I go to the sacrifice by which I am consecrated, so that they too may be consecrated in truth.

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible

Priestly Prayer is the name many give to that prayer in which Christ, before he died, offered to sacrifice his own life, as both priest and victim (v. 19). The word to consecrate applied to two things: the priest was consecrated, that is, was made worthy to offer the sacrifice, and he also consecrated (made holy) the victim on sacrificing it.

Jesus put an end to the Old Testament form of worship that the Jews rendered to God in the Temple for centuries. The Israelites were holy; that is to say, their mission among all the nations was to serve the Holy God, whom they knew by a special privilege.

Jesus prays for his own so that they may become the new people (Ps 102:19), consecrated to God, this time according to the truth (v. 17). He will pour over them the Spirit of Truth, who has been promised to Israel and will instruct us interiorly.

Keep them in your Name (v. 11). In other words: keep them in the radiance of your own sanctity, with which you embrace your Son. At that moment Jesus prayed for his Church, to whom he entrusted his own mission. The principal duty of the Church is to know God. (The word to know is repeated seven times, clearly showing that it expresses the essence of the discourse). Whatever the situation of the Church might be, its proper and indispensable mission will be to keep and proclaim the true knowledge of God and the commandment of his Son.

Jesus wants each of his own to know God. This knowledge comes to us when we interiorize the word of God, persevere in prayer and join community celebrations. In this we will have the help of the Holy Spirit, from whom come the gifts of knowledge and wisdom (Col 1:9). From knowledge will spring good works and love; this is the beginning of eternal life (v. 3) in which we will see God as he is (1 Jn 2:3).

Jesus prayed that his Church might be one, that is to say, that it might be the sign of unity in a divided world. It is not enough that Christ is preached; it is also necessary for the world to see in its midst the Church, one and united.

Catholic Church, means, universal. In the Church no one is a stranger. One Church, through one same spirit, and through the visible unity of its members.

The history of the Church seems to run counter to the prayer of Christ. Jesus desired unity; the evangelists relate how he named Peter as visible head of the apostolic group and the entire Church. However, to maintain unity among people of different temperaments and various cultures requires much love and understanding.

From the beginning some began to reject the faith as taught by the apostles, and several groups or sects appeared.

For historical reasons, the countries of the Roman world were divided into two main empires: one of the Orient, with the patterns of Greek culture and that of the Occident (Europe), where the medieval culture developed. After the invasions of the barbaric peoples, contact between the Christians of these two parts became very difficult. Because they lived the same faith with different traditions and religious practices, they began to consider themselves as having different religions. That was how the Oriental churches, that is, the Orthodox, separated from the Roman Church.

Much later the negligence of the hierarchy in not ending the abuses and useless human traditions led the Protestants or Evangelicals to found new churches, which they called reformed churches. This separation, however, had deeper political, social and economic roots. It was part of a cultural crisis that obliged Christians to revise their views regarding the Bible, philosophy and politics. According to whatever stand one took concerning these issues, one joined the Protestants or stayed with the Catholic Church.

In our times, we have a better understanding of these past difficulties. Many Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants are attempting to unite as believers. At the same time, however, new problems have arisen within each Church. Today Christians disagree and are split, not only in their political options, but also in their understanding of Christ and their views on how his message is best delivered in our time.

Ecumenism, that is, efforts to reconcile in truth and bring the Churches together, demands that we overcome the new dissensions that threaten the internal unity of the Church. All of us must work so that the unity of all Christians may be realized as Christ desires, and by the means he wants. In any case, nothing can be done without obeying the truth and doing the truth. In no way can we disregard Peter’s charism of unity that is granted to Peter’s successors.

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Comments by Wesley

1. All politics is local. Whom are you praying for? For individuals and communities to effect change in the world? For the world qua world and world's affect upon individuals?

What would it mean for you not to pray for the world?

2. As Jesus prays for others as his glory, not G*D, this pushes us away from religiosity. We don't do what we do for the glory of G*D, that can't be enhanced. We look for the results of our endeavors to be made glorious. [Note, this is not a triumphant glory, but a unifying glory of providing safety for the proverbial widows and orphans.]

3. One of the greatest challenges we face is that of not escaping the world. We stay within all its limitations and temptations. We don't get a "get out of jail free" card. We are deliberate in our going into the world to reveal a glory yet to be. We do this, in part, through a clarifying of consequences of past and current decisions. We do this, in part, by remembering a basic, creation-begun reality of goodness that can be lived. We do this, in part, by sharing joy among ourselves and witnessing to its possibility in every setting.

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