DAILY MEDITATION: JOHN 17:1-11 I pray for them. (John 17:9)
Seventy-nine years ago today, the “Miracle of Dunkirk”—the largest evacuation in military history—was completed. In the early months of World War II, a fierce onslaught from Hitler’s army pushed hundreds of thousands of Allied troops back to the beaches of Dunkirk, France. Seeing the danger, the British government declared a national day of prayer. Churches overflowed with people. Then came the miracle: perfect weather conditions allowed a massive civilian rescue effort to deliver the troops safely across the English Channel. Joy and hope were kindled as the day of prayer was followed by a national day of thanksgiving.
If the prayers of a nation could set such a miracle in motion, imagine how powerful the prayers of the Son of God can be!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus was praying for all the people God had given to him. You are one of these people. Think about that. What could be more encouraging than knowing that Jesus is always interceding for you?
Jesus prays that you will be protected and kept safe from the evil one. And his prayer is being answered. Because he has defeated Satan, the powers of darkness have lost their foothold in your life. Because of Jesus’ cross, the judgment of sin has been lifted from you. And because Jesus rose again, death has been defeated, and you can begin to experience eternal life here and now.
Does this mean that Christians never get sick or die or struggle in any way? No, it doesn’t. But it does mean that, ultimately, you are safe in God’s hands. Jesus is praying for you constantly, and his prayers are strong enough to carry you across this life into heaven.
Jesus’ prayer for protection is also about knowing God’s love today. It’s about being kept safe from anxiety and insecurity, for they can be fierce enemies as well. Jesus wants you to be able to rest secure in his Father’s love for you. He wants you to know that no sin is so big that it overpowers his mercy. There isn’t any distance too far for his outstretched arms to reach.
In light of all that God has done, how about declaring your own personal day of prayer and thanksgiving? Try to pause several times today to remember that Jesus is interceding for you.
“Jesus, thank you for praying for my protection!”
We come today (in some countries celebrated last Thursday) to the great Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, which sheds so much light on who we are as Christians and what we are supposed to be about as a Church. I want to focus on the Ascension from two perspectives: the “political” and the liturgical. Both are very important to understand what it means to speak of the Ascension of Jesus.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today’s reading is a prayer, which appears at the conclusion of Jesus’ Last Supper discourse. At the end of the prayer, Jesus is arrested in the garden. The prayer might be read as Jesus’ final commendation of himself to the Father. In the prayer, Jesus also expresses care and concern for his disciples.
Jesus’ prayer reaffirms the complete union between Jesus and the Father. Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus has been presented as the Word, who pre-existed with the Father and was sent to do the Father’s work on earth. In this prayer we learn that Jesus’ life and ministry have been directed toward one purpose, revealing the Father. When this work is accomplished, Jesus is to return to the Father to be glorified. Regardless of what happens to Jesus, in John’s Gospel, Jesus and the Father are in charge. Even in the description of Jesus’ death, Jesus does not simply die but instead hands over his spirit.
In today’s Gospel we also note the distinction found in John’s Gospel between the world and the disciples. The disciples are in the world, but they are separate from it because they have been given to Jesus. They are chosen from the world to be in service to the world for its salvation. This salvation has been accomplished in Jesus because Jesus has revealed the Father to the world, but the disciples will be sent by Jesus to make both the Father and Jesus known to the world. Jesus’ prayer is for the disciples’ work in the world.
Gospel: John 17:1-11 Father, it is time for you to glorify me
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him. And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world was. I have made your name known to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me. I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.’