Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer 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.’
In the Preface to the Marriage Service the priest says these words: marriage is a gift of God in which … man and woman become one flesh. It is God’s purpose that … they shall be united as Christ is united with his Church. These words are said at the beginning of each Marriage Service. These words, and others with describe the ‘oneness’ to which each married couple should aspire, are meant for those being married, for those who are already married, and for those who are contemplating the possibility of marriage at some point in the future. These words sum up the totality of the commitment that is made by each married couple as they offer their vows to each other. As we consider the ‘oneness’ that is the calling of each married couple, we should use that very human marker as a way of grasping Jesus’ words to us today.
As Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples draws to its close, he looks to his Father in heaven and prays for his closest companions in the times of fear and need with which they will soon be confronted. As Jesus’ earthly ministry draws to its glorious conclusion, he prays for those nearest to him, and for all future believers in his great message to humanity.
As I have considered in earlier reflections, prayer is a great mystery. The power of prayer is incalculable, just as it is undeniable. As prayers are answered many will speak of ‘good luck’ rather than thanking God for his merciful response to their pleading. Such a cavalier reaction to prayers answered is often rooted in God’s response not being framed in the self-centred way in which we would wish. Jesus’ prayer, and his heavenly Father’s response to that prayer, is different. Jesus’ prayer, as recorded by John in this short passage, is yet another example of his intimate union with his Father in heaven, an intimate relationship Jesus wants for us as well.
Consider the times you have played your small part in something you could not have achieved alone. Whether you were third triangle in the school orchestra, just one singer in a choir of two hundred voices, one member of a sports team or a participant in something much bigger like the London Marathon, your part was important, you were in an intimate and complete union with everyone else who was taking part. This is Jesus’ prayer for us. Jesus prays that we come to understand that, no matter how insignificant we may feel ourselves to be, his arms are open to welcome us with the warmest possible embrace.
Jesus prays that our relationship with God should be the same as his. What greater answer to prayer could we possibly ask for?