Sanctified by His Word

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

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
(John 17:17)

On His cross is hope for glory,
Our protection is in His Name;
Let our witness tell the story
About the truth that we all claim.

Jesus prayed, “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 have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not 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 sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:11b-19)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, our Lord teaches us what and for whom we should pray. First of all, Jesus prayed asking God to protect His beloved apostles, the first pillars of His Church, and for their unity and strength. Aware of the devil’s devious plans to undo what He had set out to accomplish, Jesus prayed to the Father for their protection in the power of His Name. One of the most powerful prayers for protection that we have is Psalm 91. In this prayer, the holy Name of God is invoked three times: “If you live in the shelter of Elyon, and make your home in the shadow of Shaddai, you can say to Yahweh, ‘My Refuge, my Fortress, my God in Whom I trust.” And in this Psalm, God assures us, “I rescue all who cling to me, I protect whoever knows My Name.” (Psa.91:14) Let us pray for our loved ones, but pray for our church as well.

Then Jesus prayed that His followers may have my joy made complete in themselves. In the midst of the world’s hatred for Christians, it is the joy of the Holy Spirit that can counter it and sustain us in times of persecution and hardships. The world hates those who do not conform to its ways. The grafters and corrupters in government hate us when we post our “Be Honest” bills and posters; the vote-buyers scoff at volunteers who try to ensure clean and fair elections. The pragmatic and street-wise regard Christians as foolish and impractical, but we persevere in spreading Christ’s values in the marketplace, believing that in the end our ideals will be vindicated.

Finally, Jesus prayed for the sanctification of His apostles in His truth. Everything that Jesus taught was meant to keep us holy. Earlier, He said, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:32). Remaining in His word means meditating on the Holy Scriptures daily, so that we may be fortified and sanctified in His truth. Otherwise, as St. Paul warns in the first reading, “men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them” (Acts 20:30). As Jesus’ followers, let us stand by and for the truth in all our ways, so that we may always be His light in the world.

Father God, by the power of Your Name, protect us always from the evil one; grant us the spirit of joy to serve even those who hate us, and the grace to discern the truth, which will sanctify us and make us Your light to others. As the psalmist wrote: “Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.” (Psalm 126:5) Amen.

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