Jesus said, ‘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.’
Jesus said: ‘As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.’
In earlier times young men went on The Grand Tour. This historic and artistic rite of passage flourished between the 17th and early-19th centuries. It was meant to prepare wealthy young men for the cultured and influential life that many considered to be their birthright. The rise of global industrialisation brought about the demise of The Grand Tour, but it did not bring about the end of our desire to ‘see the world’.
The same industrialisation that terminated leisurely, prolonged journeys around the ‘cultured’ world opened up new ways of exploring and experiencing cultures other than our own. Trains and cars, and then aeroplanes, allowed the more adventurous to step out and revel in the unfamiliar and the stimulating. In more recent times people of all ages have come to speak of: Taking a Gap Year! But … what is the purpose of such prolonged periods away from the reality and routine of our daily lives?
In today’s reading Jesus gives purpose to our desire to travel. Jesus speaks of himself as having been sent, and of his desire that his disciples should follow his example and venture out into the world. At this stage in the gospel narrative Jesus invites us to hear and believe in the purpose of his earthly ministry. Jesus, the Son of God, journeyed into the mortal realm to bring reconciliation and renewal between God and humanity. Today we are being challenged to recognize the purpose of Christ’s Incarnation and to accept the challenge of carrying the baton (the cross) of that ministry into the reality of our present time in order that Christ’s community of believers, the Church, might flourish and grow into the future.
Jesus’ mission and ministry was not a passive demonstration of one man’s response to God’s call. Jesus’ mission and ministry was a practical training manual in discipleship and apostleship. Jesus’ mission and ministry was a challenge, and a command, for us to go out into the world and to prove that all Jesus did was not in vain.
The question is … are we up for that challenge?