Reflection on John 17.20-26 (Easter 7: Thursday; Easter Season)

A reflection for Easter 7: Thursday, 25 May 2023, on John 17.20-26

John 17.20-26

Jesus said, ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 

‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’


Jesus said: ‘The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one.’

I have to admit that I have always struggled to find the time and, therefore, the motivation to be a dedicated sports fan. I do not have a particular team that commands my unwavering loyalty, but I do watch ‘important’ matches, and I do admire demonstrably skilful play. However, I also have to admit that there is one aspect of every televised game, no matter what the sport, that drives me to hit either the ‘mute’ or even the ‘off’ button … the jargon-laden commentary offered by the so-called experts!

When we watch professional sportsmen and sportswomen plying their trade we are witnessing the greatest effort and skill being deployed in the moment. We are seeing unity in action … in the present. Past game situations are, to a very large extent, irrelevant. The opinions of pundits are irrelevant. The only reality exists between the unity of purpose and action that is being demonstrated on the pitch, or whatever. It is the quality of unity in purpose and action that will lead to the glory (or the disgrace) of each team.

In today’s reading Jesus speaks of glory and unity. He is not speaking of something as superficial and transitory as the glory associated with scoring the winning goal. Instead, Jesus is speaking of the divine glory we can all experience if we can bring ourselves to live in unity with God, and with one another.

Human beings struggle with unity. Our innate competitive instinct leads us to follow our own path, even when it leads to diminishment and despair. Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus made it clear, through every one of his words and actions, that he was in complete accord … unity … with his Heavenly Father. We are called to be in a similar state of unity … with God and with each other. If just one player in a sports team undermines the unity of the team, damage is done. So with the team that is Christ’s Church … those who cannot or will not be as One in Christ diminish the Church’s mission and ministry, whilst also paving the way for the nay-sayers and the critics who would drag us backwards, and not forwards into God’s glorious future.