Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come.
Give glory to your son….

John 17 is a whirlwind of words. They fly before our eyes and minds with intense, tantalizing meaning and then fly away again before we have begun to grasp their import. Hour, Glory, Father, Love, Life, Authority, Eternity, Work, Give and others: what do they all mean?

There seems to be a tornadic circularity in the prayer as in the sentences, “Give glory to your son so that your son may glorify you.” and “…because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.” As I read those sentences and search for their meaning I feel like Dorothy swept up in a Kansas tornado. What does it all mean? Where is this going?

John 17 is Jesus’ prayer to the Father for us, his disciples. It concludes his Testament of Chapters 13-17, beginning with his washing of their feet. In this final chapter we are given a glimpse of the inner life of the Trinity, a place of intense love, joy, glory, self-sacrificing generosity and confidence. In this place we touch and encounter the heart of creation as a hospitable place.

Darwin’s survival of the fittest misreads the data entirely. For him the world is savagely barbaric, only the strong survive. Whether the environment is the jungle, the plain or the ocean; the marketplace, the classroom or the playground, cutthroat competition is the law of the land. That, he said, is nature’s way.

But there are other voices. The philosopher John Macmurray taught, competition is for cooperation, which builds community. No matter what game we’re playing, the rules of engagement teach us to honor and respect our competitors. Sportsmanship does not mean destroy your enemy. Macmurray, a British soldier in World War I and a grieving observer of World War II, invited his students to pursue friendship and community as the ways of peace.

Jesus, of course, goes far beyond the greatest philosophers. More than a teacher, he gathers us to himself with the tenderness of a shepherd and the urgency of a tornado. He alone has the authority to make the rough way smooth and the difficult passage easy. He leads us through death to life in God.

No amount of our willingness can make it happen; only Jesus can open the way to His Father; and we hear him doing that in John 17; as he pleads on our behalf.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.