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.’
Jesus looked up to heaven and said: ‘Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given, so that they may be one, as we are one.’
Some will remember, and most will have been told of safer times. Those times when front doors could be left unlocked, when it was safe to walk the streets, and when everyone looked out for the safety and well-being of their neighbours. During this ‘golden age’ policemen (and they are always described as ‘policemen’) were found the moment they were needed and any imbalance in the status quo was redressed by the application of ‘good old common sense’. Sadly, this idyllic view of society has never matched the reality of daily life. Just as our current perception of life in a dystopian world of unrelenting anger, greed and self-interest is not true, neither is the wondrous fancy of a utopian past an accurate representation of how life really was. No matter how much we deceive ourselves with false memories or futile despair, we have an innate sense that we need protection from the evils that might harm us. Today’s reading offers us the reassurance that Jesus understands our need, and that he prays to his Holy Father for that protection.
Jesus’ prayer is not some sort of magic cloak or force field. Jesus’ prayer is that we might be protected by our commitment to Christian unity. All who profess a faith in Jesus Christ are called to live in love, peace and unity. But, too often, we fall short in this obligation. Then, as we fail to love our neighbours as we love ourselves and as Jesus loves us, our sense of peace and unity are compromised and we feel unsafe. As we fail to live in peace, fuelling feelings of discontent through our engagement with a vindictive round of gossip and rumour we feel increasingly insecure as everyone comes to attack one another. As our inability to live in love and peace damages our unity, so we fail to live as one in Christ … we fail to play our part in keeping ourselves in a state of readiness, readiness to allow Jesus to live with us and within us.
Today we are, once again, being challenged to hold ourselves in readiness for the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. We are being challenged to demonstrate our faith in the protection of our Holy Father in heaven. We are being challenged to be Christ-like in the way we live in love, peace and unity.