Today’s Gospel: John 17:1-11A
Today’s reading from John 17, like many other passages from the Gospel of John, is a challenge to understand.
The chapter records Jesus’s final prayer to God the Father prior to his arrest in the garden at Gethsemane. He has just explained to his disciples that he will go away for a brief time, then reappear. He then turns his eyes to heaven and asks one final blessing as his hour comes.
In the end, he seems to be saying, his time on earth was not about acts but about words.
“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.”
The passage suggests to me that before Jesus’s hour could come, before the crucifixion could take place, the disciples had to understand and acknowledge the word of God.
That Christ is the Word made flesh is a central theme of John. But why? John places far more importance on the Word and words than on acts. This runs counter to our modern tendency to discount the value of words.
The more familiar I become with the Bible, the more I get the point, and the more I appreciate the power and value of words, including my own.
The ability to receive, record, understand, and share words sets us apart from the rest of creation. It’s no wonder that God places such an emphasis on them.
Spending more time with scripture has, in recent years, made me more mindful of my own use of words. I have become less profane, less pedantic. I have become more plainspoken and more direct in my language–partly because I have come to realize that all words are God’s words, that every word that I use is a gift from God and can be used to honor or dishonor him.
What is the significance of names? John makes reference to the Lord’s Name four times in this chapter. Elsewhere in the Bible hundreds of references are made to the importance of our names as well as His. Several Old Testament figures had their names changed by God. Why was this important?
Lord, grant me the wisdom to use words wisely. Let the beauty of my language reflect the beauty of your creation.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Kirk Whitney