Jesus’ Final Prayer

John 17: 11-19
Acts 20: 28-38 / Ps 68: 29-30, 33-36

As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
(John 17: 19)

Be bold, don’t fear what lies ahead,
Take the hard road to perfection;
Be steadfast in your faith instead,
Assured of our Lord’s protection.

Jesus continued His prayer: “And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them Your Word, and the world hated them because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you to take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, any more than I belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I consecrate myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17: 11-19)

Reflection

The whole chapter 17 of St. John’s Gospel (vs. 1 to 26) comprise the longest prayer of Jesus to His Father just before He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. First, He prayed for Himself (for strength), then for His apostles whom He would send on their mission, and finally for all who would believe them and become His followers.

For His apostles, Jesus prayed for their protection from the evil one, and for them to be sanctified in the truth (the Word of God). In the first reading, St. Paul expressed similar sentiments for the faithful in Ephesus before He left them on his way back to Jerusalem. He said, “Keep watch over yourselves and over the flock the Holy Spirit has placed under your care … men will come forward perverting the truth to draw away disciples after them … Now I commend you to God, and to His grace-filled Word, that can build you up and gain for you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20: 28,30,32).

We too are sanctified by the Holy Spirit in our daily reading of God’s Word. But those who refuse to believe in God’s truth in the Bible are in danger of being perverted by false doctrines that are now proliferating throughout the world. My wife and I had once been fond of watching the Oprah Winfrey show because of the seemingly good influence that Oprah has on millions of television viewers for her humanitarian activities. But we were greatly disappointed to learn on YouTube how subtly she has been perverting the truth and leading nominal Christians away from God’s Word by espousing her brand of New Age religion. She questioned that Jesus is God and is the only way to heaven, and even gave weight to an atheist author’s premise that, “Man made God in his image and likeness.”

As disciples of Jesus, we must counter the teachings of these false prophets and defend the truth, as some Christian ladies in the audience of Oprah’s show did, with much applause. (For once the applause was not for her.) Jesus did not pray to the Father “to take them out of the world, but that (God) protect(s) them from the evil one.” Our Lord wants us to be in the world to transform it with His Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit; but at the same time He asks the Father to protect us from being contaminated, or perverted by the world.

Shield us, dear God from the temptations and evils of the world, but grant us the courage and discernment to spread the light of Your Good News of salvation to others in it. Amen.

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