Scripture: Lectionary 298: May 14, Acts 20:17-27. Psalm 68:10-11.20-21. John 17:1-11:
If one has any doubts about the necessity and value of prayer in our lives, one just has to read today’s selection from the last discourse of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel. We have Jesus himself sharing his intimate prayer with the Father and even helping us to see the necessity of outward expression such as lifting his eyes to the Heavens while he addresses his Father! Jesus is praying for his friends, the apostles. He also is praying for all of us even those who do not believe in him. His example of praying and teaching us how to pray comes to my mind as I reflect on this Gospel passage—especially the first five lines. I thought of the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father, the Pater Noster from Matthew 6:9-13) where Jesus answered the petition, Lord, teach us to pray. He not only teaches us the seven petitions in that great prayer but also allows us to enter the heart of his own intimate prayer at the waning hours of his life. The prayer is simple, yet majestic. It is poetic, yet so real that it moves us to be aware of the importance of prayer in our lives. If the Son of God prayed, how much more should we. If he petitioned the Father to make us one even as he and the Father are one, then intercessory prayer is one of the essential ways of praying. Gestures are important too as we learn from Jesus in his last prayers with those whom he loved.
The word “glorify” or “glory” may baffle us at times. Recently, learned that the glory of the Father and the Son is the love they have for each other and this is the Holy Spirit. I linked the word glory to the Lord’s Prayer in the opening where we say “hallowed be thy Name” knowing well that the Name is the person of God—Father , Son, Holy Spirit. The word for glory in Hebrew is kabod. It arises from the interior of a person and represents the person’s presence and actions that are overwhelming. Psalm 3:3 gives us a glimpse of the meaning of glory applied to God: “O Lord, you are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.” Fr. Prevost in the Short Dictionary of the Psalms has this important sentence: “The glory of God is the radiant manifestation of God’s being. To speak of the glory of God is to speak of God’s radiance in the world, God’s self-manifestation outside the reign of heaven, and, finally, of God’s presence and dwelling in the world.”
Jesus prays that he will be glorified by the Father for accomplishing what he does in the sufferings, death, and resurrection. Jesus prays for himself! He prays for his disciples; he prays for us. Like his disciples he prays that we be protected from the hostility of the world; that we remain faithful to him through our trust, our hope, and our love of him. He prays for unity and peace.
We are amazed at the simplicity and intimacy of his prayers. We realize our own prayer must be like his—simple and reverent. Perhaps, we may wish to be more attentive to the times we will pray the Our Father this day and maybe to see John 17 as a reflection of what is said in the Lord’s Prayer. We may discover that the significance of Jesus’ life is contained in chapter 17 of John’s Gospel.
“All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your Name (Psalm 86:9) and “I will glorify your Name forever.” (Psalm 86:12). Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.