Jesus’ Prayer for Unity

John 17: 1-11a
Acts 20: 17-27 / Psa 68

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given me, for they are Yours. All I have is Yours, and all You have is mine.
(John 17:9)

Live what we preach, God’s Word proclaim,
By words and deeds that testify
Our unity in Jesus’ Name,
By Whom our God we glorify.

After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent. I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began. I have revealed You to those whom You gave me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to me and they have obeyed Your word. Now they know that everything You have given me comes from You. For I gave them the words You gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given me, for they are Yours. All I have is Yours, and all You have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You.” (John 17:1-11a)

Reflection

This was the prayer of Jesus after His last supper with the apostles before they proceeded to the garden of Gethsemane. He was praying this aloud for the benefit of the apostles. He was preparing them (“the hour has come”) but at the same time allaying their fears, because this was the time of His glorification, and that as the Son of God He had the power to give them eternal life. Our Lord knew that He would soon be facing His own crucifixion, but He regarded it as His and the Father’s glorification! Why? Because this was the divine plan by which eternal life would finally be given to all who believed in Him and the Father Who sent Him. This was the culmination of His mission on earth.

Jesus knew the importance of unity in His flock, and specifically asked the Father to protect the unity of his followers and guard it against division. The primary goal of the enemy is division – to separate us from God. We cannot claim unity with Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father if we are not one with each other. Our fellowship with God depends on our unity, as much as on our witnessing — to be one “so that the world may believe” that Jesus is from God (John 17:21). Indeed, in unity there is great power. Our unity as a people is defined by something greater than ourselves, which at times may even be worth dying for. This is what Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel, as He prays to the Father for the unity of His disciples, on the eve of His impending death. But take note that our Lord specified only “those whom (God) gave to (Him) out of the world.” Jesus even said, “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours” (Jn.17:9). What defines our unity as followers of Jesus? And how do we glorify Him? First, it is our acceptance of and obedience to His Word, the Gospel, and our conversion to a more meaningful relationship with Him. Then it is committing ourselves to serve Him in our chosen community by living His values and ideals. Finally, it is by leading others to Him that we glorify Him and be one with Him.

Father God, help our Church achieve the unity of faith that all Christians sorely need. The forces of darkness draw strength from the division of Your people. Let our calling be not only to proclaim Your reconciliation but also to live it. Amen.

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