Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Answer to Jesus’ Prayer

May 13, 2018 –– 7th Sunday of Easter
Acts 1:15–17, 20a, 20c–26 / Psalm 103: 1–2, 11–12, 19–20 / 1 John 4:11–16 / John 17:11b–19
The Answer to Jesus’ Prayer

Think of the people you love the most. What are your greatest concerns and desires for them? The Gospel reading takes us into the intimacy of prayer between Jesus and the Father. It’s the night before Jesus goes to the cross and we are allowed to look into the deepest desires that our Lord has for his followers. Two of his key concerns are unity and truth.

He prays: for them… you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. Jesus wants us to have the oneness he has with the Father! And how the devil has sought to destroy the unity of God’s people! Christians are divided by ethnicity, nationality, economics, sexuality, and doctrine––just to mention some of the most significant. How can we be one? In our fractured world, what could possibly be a unifier?

The simple answer is another of the desires we hear from Jesus: Consecrate them in your truth. Your word is truth. That is a “simple” answer, but applying it is anything but simple. We live in a culture that has given up on truth. Some say there is no absolute truth. Some say truth is too complicated to understand even if it exists. Some want truth to be a subjective (personal) decision so that “I have my truth and you have your truth.” Almost everyone would agree that the issue of truth is complicated and hard. How can truth unify us unless we know what truth is?!

If we are prepared to believe Jesus, he tells us right here in his prayer. As he calls on the Father he says Your word is truth. That is a primary issue for all of us. Are we ready to surrender our own ideas of what is true to what God says? If so, we are ready for a second question: How do we discern what God says? The second reading speaks to one facet of this: This is how we know… that he has given us of his Spirit. What is the result of having God’s Spirit? A person acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God; (so that) God remains in him and he in God. That is still a bit abstract, so John gives a tangible application––love.

This is not sentimentality. This is not whatever makes us personally feel good. The love John exalts in his first letter is God’s kind of love––the kind of love that sacrifices for the good of another…. the kind of love that causes the Spirit of Jesus to make us more and more like him.

Yet this still takes discernment. How do know what is true about Jesus? We find that our Lord has provided that. In the first reading Peter, as the leader of the other apostles, says it is necessary that the place vacated by Judas be filled by one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, and so become with us a witness to his resurrection. The way we know Jesus––what he said and what he did and what it all means––is that he provided for eye-witnesses to establish Apostolic Teaching and successive continuity.

In the early 1970s Charles Colson was President Nixon’s “hatchet man” going into the Watergate scandal. He was convicted along with a few others for obstruction of justice. Going from one of the most powerful positions in the nation to jail resulted in his conversion to Christian Faith. Reflecting on that he later gave a compelling reason why we can trust the eye-witnesses to whom Jesus entrusted the Church:

I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned, and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world––and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible!

God, in his great love, has given us his Son as atonement for our sins and raised him from the dead to give us victory over death and the hope of eternal life. We can dare believe this because our Lord also gave us a Church founded on an Apostolic Authority––men who were eye-witnesses, and then gave credibility to their testimony by their consistency and courage and continuity.

The unbelieving world around us grasps for something stable; we as Christians have every reason to believe we know the truth of God. Beyond all the lesser issues that divide our society––and even our Christian communities––we have a Church that is rooted in truth.

If we believe God’s truth with passion and allow it to have priority over all other issues, then we can trust our Lord to make us one. As that happens, we will begin to love more and more like Jesus.

And then this prayer that Jesus prayed on the night before his death will become a living reality––even in you and me. We can be the answer to Jesus’ prayer!

Lord, make it so….

Site Meter