Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter


Father, the hour has come.
Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you,
just as you gave him authority over all people,
so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.


With this last week of the Easter Season we arrive at the deepest, most mysterious chapter of Saint John's Gospel. Chapter 17 has been called "the priestly prayer of Jesus." We are permitted to hear the Lord speak to his God as he prays for us. Unlike the Tridentine priest who mutters in Latin while the congregation recites the rosary, Jesus audibly prays for us that we might hear and understand every word.
While it is true that God exists in and of himself, that God does not require or need our existence -- the universe and the Earth existed billions of years before the first human beings appeared -- we realize that God is for us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. John 3:16
Earlier, during this Easter season, I tried to share my own astonishment at this verse. John 3:16 intentionally invokes the Sacrifice of Isaac. Abraham might have responded to God's demand for sacrifice by offering to kill himself; but the Lord wanted more than that! What parent, if forced to make a choice, would not choose suicide before killing her own child? Abraham was a 112 years old; he could readily surrender his life in favor of Isaac, his only beloved son. But the Lord wanted more than Abraham could give!
Why?
Because the Lord would give for our salvation more than God could give. The Sacrifice of Isaac is a prophetic story which anticipates the Sacrifice of Jesus. We too often think, "God is God. God can do anything he wants. God can save me and still have infinite resources to do anything else! What's the big deal? In fact, if he wanted he could give me anything I want and still have infinitely more. My pleasure costs God nothing! "
This "prayer" might sound like this, "You owe it to me because you can do it and it costs you nothing. You can save, heal, forgive, enrich, empower and glorify me and if I thank you for your trouble it won't be because you need or deserve my thanks, since it cost you nothing. I thank you only because I need to do something a little less than selfish." Thus rendering gratitude a selfish act!
But that's not the God we meet in scripture. Our God could  not save us unless he gave more than he could afford, unless he gave his only begotten son.
Those who follow Jesus to Gethsemane and watch him collapse on the ground, who hear his anguished prayer and see him sweat blood must appreciate what this means. The man is momentarily helpless with fear. A friend might urge him to flee for his life, but we must urge him to stay and wait for his tormentors to arrive. We cannot be saved unless he is crucified.
In John 17, the Lord permits us to hear his prayer for us.
Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you,
just as you gave him authority over all people,
We have often heard of Jesus authority. Again, we must reflect on that. The Gospel of Saint Matthew closes with his assurance to his disciples, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me." The Letter to the Hebrews tells us, "Son though he was, Jesus learned obedience by what he suffered..."
His authority over the Universe and the Church is his obedience through suffering. Because Jesus is absolutely obedient, because he marches relentlessly toward Jerusalem as the Holy Spirit directs him, he can say, "The Father and I are one." The Son is not the Father but they share one will, which is the salvation of humankind. God is for us.
Insofar as you and I are guided by the Holy Spirit we too share the freedom, authority and the sacrificial suffering of God. We too can make every necessary sacrifice freely, gracefully, eagerly. This freedom is "eternal life."

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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.