Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Love with Which You Loved Me

May 28, 2009

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

The following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome." Acts 23:11


Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them." John 17:20-26


Today, we have the privilege of reflecting on Jesus’ final words spoken at the Last Supper. For the remaining few days after today in the Easter season, the Gospel will turn to Jesus’ last encounter with the disciples – the Last Breakfast on the beach.

Before leaping into this text, let’s start off with remembering the first words in the Good News according to St. John: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5) John’s focus at the beginning of this book is on union and communion with God until Jesus came into the world to be with us.

When Jesus began his public ministry, his first words were, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus asks us to change where we look for happiness. He wants us to seek happiness in unity with God, not in the temptations of the world.

If those words were the introduction to Jesus’ public ministry, today, we listen to the conclusion or summation of all he has preached.

Who does he talk about?

Jesus mentioned himself (“I” and “me”) 23 times followed by references to God (“Father” and “you”) 19 times. In the beginning he was with God and now he will return to happiness with God. If Jesus and God are the source of this prayer, we are the object or subject of the prayer. He refers to us in various ways16 times.

What does he stress?

In all, three action verbs dominate this message and focus us like a laser beam right back on the Cursillo tripod:

“Be one.” (…through our piety)

“Know.” (…through our study)

“Love.” (…through our action)

Just as Jesus was one with the Father that is his pray for us. He prays and wishes for us to experience this total communion a dozen times in this short passage. “The love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

After studying this Last Supper discourse passed on to us through the Gospel according to St. John, we have had a fresh encounter with the poetic, passionate and prayerful sides of Jesus. He has so much to say to and to do with those he loved at the Passover meal about actual and sacramental Communion.

Yet in just a few hours, we encounter the loving figure of Christ in silence standing before Pilate and Herod, enduring ridicule from the guards and the crowd. The contrast between the different personas of Jesus that we encounter on these two days makes his piety, study and action on Thursday and what he did on Friday in silence stand in stark contrast as a way of emphasizing that Communion is not just a sacrament, but Communion is a state of being and living in his love, the love which the Father loved him and the love which Jesus passes on to us.


Listening to a talk on contemplative prayer (“divine union”) by Fr. Thomas Keating at the same time the Last Supper discourse unfolded in daily scripture reminded me of the centrality of love to this faith. Fr. Keating said, “Love is the universal bond that holds together the entire world.

Today, we can focus on God, Jesus and ourselves. The glue with which we will remain with God (and fulfill Jesus’ prayer for us) is such love expressed in our piety, study and action.

We can talk all we want about changing the world. However, the first step to that change is to look in the mirror and change the person who stares back at us. Take courage, just as Peter, Paul and the disciples has to dive in to this work after Jesus departed from the world, that responsibility now passes to us. So we also must bear witness in Virginia and everywhere we live, work and travel. Wherever we go, God is with us and will always remain with us. The question remains whether we will we choose to remain with God?

No comments: