"Father, the hour has come.
- Now this is eternal life,
- Now glorify me, Father, with you,
- Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
- And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you."
I have often thought of the word hour in the Gospel of Saint John as the ringing of a bell. When we first hear it in Chapter 2 -- "Woman, what is that to you and me? My hour has not yet come." -- it sounds faintly and from a distance. But as we move through the gospel and Jesus approaches Jerusalem the bell sounds louder.
- Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
- Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
- He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
- ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,
- Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Today, I notice the word now in John 17, the "priestly prayer of Jesus." If now is a bell he is hammering on it. In literature and poetry this repetition of a word or phrase is called anaphora. Charles Dickens began his Tale of Two Cities with an unforgettable anaphora:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”Anaphora often directs our attention to this particular moment with its immediate urgency, as in Winston Churchill's powerful speech:
“We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”Jesus' words sweep us into this moment and his intense prayer to the Father. (Now) the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you....
We are here in the Sacred Liturgy, at his Last Supper, witnessing his sacrificial passion, death and resurrection, caught up by our devotion, loyalty and affection for him into his all-consuming love of God.
I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.Caught up as we are, we cannot turn away.