Scripture: Lectionary 300. May 16. Acts 22:30.23:6-11. Psalm 16:1-2.5.7-8.9-10.11. John 17:20-26:
Many of the major themes of the Fourth Gospel (John) are intertwined within the “priestly prayer” of Jesus (chapter 17). Our specific Gospel reading for today’s liturgy is John 17:20-26. While reading this and meditating upon it, I discovered the following topics bound up in this part of Jesus’ prayer: prayer—especially the intimate prayer of Jesus to the Father; faith on the part of the disciples (friends, apostles) in the person of Jesus; unity among those who have trust in Jesus and who love him as Jesus has prayed that they love him and the Father; completion of that unity with joy that has already been mentioned in the last discourse; Jesus as the Apostle par excellence sent from the Father into the world; Jesus as Revealer; life in the Spirit by sharing in the love of Jesus for the Father and the Father for Jesus; and the glory of God the Father and the Son through their intimate union in the Spirit.
Why so many themes? Probably for the same reason that Jesus uses the I AM statements while speaking to his friends, the apostles. These multiple themes and symbols in John point out and witness to the universality of who Jesus is for everyone who believes in him or begins to believe in him. There are words, symbols, and statements that would attract a variety of listeners. This is the purpose of the Johannine writings, namely, to lead all peoples to believe in him who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Luke is the theologian and evangelist who emphasizes the theme of universality in the proclamation of who Jesus is, but we also see that John does this through the multi-faceted and different words that are associated with Jesus in the themes mentioned above. No one is to be left out from the revelatory and salvific message that the Gospel of John presents to us. There is a universalism in the great unity amidst diversity of these themes and titles of Jesus (Christology of John). All are brought together in the great love that is given to the believer in Jesus which John calls “AGAPE.” The themes and words are effective because they are divinely inspired and come from the mouth of Jesus himself in this Gospel.
Keeping the themes and statements of chapter 17 in our minds and hearts we may wish to choose one or two of them today to see us through the hours of our work, prayer, and relaxation. Those that attract us and stir our thoughts, feelings, and move us are the ones that are probably the graced prayer for us this day.
We have already seen the value of returning often to the Prologue which has as many themes as the priestly prayer of Jesus. This overture of themes helps us as we read through the rest of the Gospel of John. The final chapters of 18-21narrate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. We lived out these mysteries in our liturgy of Holy Week. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.