“I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:14-15)
The prayer of Jesus in today’s Gospel passage carries a lot of deep-seated messages. In fact, this prayer is both prophetic and instructive. Firstly, Jesus highlights the hatred of the world. St. Paul in today’s first reading mentions the fact that “fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock…” (Acts 20:29). It shouldn’t surprise you to know that there are many so determined to crush Christianity that they go to the extent of pretending to be members of the flock yet manifesting their hatred.
Secondly, Jesus does not pray that we should be taken away from the world but He prays for protection from the evil one. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. (Ephesians 6:12). Nevertheless, we wrestle not as victims but as victors because as Jesus himself says, “I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). The devil (the evil one) is real; we see all he does but God who is stronger protects us.
Thirdly, Jesus defines the Christian life as a missionary enterprise. “As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18) To be a Christian is to be on a mission: to preach the Gospel. We are not here to become successful as the world sees it. St. Paul in today’s first reading mentions the fact that during his stay, he did not covert anyone’s silver or gold or apparel but worked with his hands to meet his necessities. The love of money is the root of all evil. (1st Timothy 6:10). This is particularly true with regards to those of us (ministers) in the shoes of St. Paul today.
Fourthly, Jesus says “they are not of the world even as I am not of the world.” This world is not our home. We are only passing through. We cannot have it all and we can’t expect everything to be perfect n this side of existence. We only need to be content and grateful. The book of Hebrews says: “Be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’ Hence, we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.’” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Finally, Jesus prays that we should be sanctified in the truth. What is the truth? Jesus answers: “Your Word is Truth.” (John 17:17). Soak yourself daily in the Word of God.
Let us pray: Come Holy Spirit and enkindle in us your Sacred Fire. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 20:28-38, Ps. 69-30,33-36, John 17:11-19)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu