1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
Your Son Jesus Christ
carried out the mission You had given Him,
without fear and in all faithfulness to You.
God, give us a taste
of His sense of mission.
Give us the strength of the Spirit
to speak Your word as it is,
bold and demanding,
without compromising or giving in
to the changing moods and fashions of the day.
And may our lives be like an open book
in which people can read Your word.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 17:1-11a
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, "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. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. "I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. 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. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you."
• In today’s Gospel, in tomorrow’s, and the day after tomorrow’s, we will meditate on the words that Jesus addressed to the Father at the moment of His farewell. John keeps these words and puts them in Jesus’ mouth during His last encounter with the disciples. It is the Testament of Jesus in the form of a prayer, also called the Priestly Prayer (Jn 17:1-26).
• Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John is the end of a long reflection by Jesus, begun in chapter 15, on the mission in the world. The communities preserved these reflections in order to be able to better understand the difficult moment that they were going through: tribulations, abandonment, doubts, and persecution. The long reflection ends with the prayer of Jesus for the communities. In it are expressed the sentiments and concerns, according to the Evangelist, Jesus had at that moment in which He was going out, leaving this world, and going toward the Father. With these sentiments and with this concern, Jesus now finds Himself before His Father, interceding for us. Because of this the Priestly Prayer is also the Testament of Jesus. Many people, in the moment when they leave forever, leave some message. Everyone keeps the important words of a father and mother, especially when they are the last moments of life. Keeping these words is like keeping the person. It is a form of respect and of affection.
• Chapter 17 is a diverse text. It is a friendlier one rather than one of reasoning. In order to grasp the whole meaning, it is not sufficient to reflect with the head, with reason. This text has to be meditated upon and accepted in the heart as well. It is a text not so much to be discussed, but to meditate reflect upon. Therefore, do not be worried if you do not understand it immediately. This text demands a whole life of pondering and deepening. Such a text should be read, meditated on, thought, read again, repeated, savored, as one does with a good sweet in the mouth. One turns it over and over in the mouth until it is finished. For this, close your eyes, keep silence within you and listen to Jesus who speaks to you, transmitting in His Testament His greatest concern, His last will. Try to discover which point Jesus insists on the most and which points He considers the most important.
• John 17:1-3: “Father, the hour has come!” It is the long awaited hour (Jn 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23,27; 13:1; 16:32). It is the moment of the glorification which will take place through the Passion, death and Resurrection. In reaching the end of His mission, Jesus looks back and proceeds to a review. In this prayer, He expresses the most intimate sentiment of His heart and the profound discovery of His soul: the presence of the Father in His life.
• John 17:4-8: Father, they will recognize that I come from You! In reviewing His own life Jesus sees Himself as a manifestation of the Father for the friends whom the Father has given Him. Jesus does not live for Himself. He lives in order that all may have a flash of goodness and love which are enclosed in the name of God which is Abba, Father.
• John 17:9-11a: All I have is Yours and all You have is Mine! At the moment of leaving the world, Jesus expresses His concern to the Father and prays for the friends whom He leaves behind; that they will continue in the world, but they are not of the world. They are of Jesus, they are God’s, and they are signs of God and of Jesus in this world. Jesus is concerned about the people who remain, and He prays for them.
4) For Personal Confrontation
• If you were about to die, what would be the message that you would like to leave to your family and to your community?
• Notice that He is addressing the One He is going to, not those He is leaving. Would this be your way too? Why or why not?
• Many fear death, even though it is just a passing to new life. A large part of the “message” we leave is in how we leave – accepting and at peace or clinging on to this life. Imagine yourself at those moments. What message do you present in those last days or hours? How do you feel while putting yourself in these last moments?
5) Concluding Prayer
Blessed be the Lord day after day,
He carries us along, God our Savior.
This God of ours is a God who saves;
from Lord Yahweh comes escape from death. (Ps 68:19-20)