Once upon a time, two close friends, Larry and Leo decided to embark on an adventure by ship to a particularly beautiful tourist Island. They set out happily and with so much excitement. However, before they could reach the Island, their ship had a terrible mishap, and many of the passengers lost their lives, but they were lucky to swim ashore and found themselves in a strange Island without any trace of life nor human support.
Two days after, the two friends could not get any help and found nothing to eat. Suddenly, Larry remembers that they need to commit their situation to God in prayer and they decide to go to different locations in the Island to pray because they could end up chatting instead of praying if they stay together. Leo started by asking God for food because he was dying of hunger. Instantly, after praying, he saw baskets of different kinds of food, and he settled down to enjoy himself.
Next, he requests for shelter and warm clothes for the cold nights, and there he sees a tent with all provisions he could imagine. The speed at which his prayers got answers surprised him, and after some days he thought about going home to join his family. He prays for a ship that would take him back to his family, and before he could finish he sees a ship approaching the shore, and he didn’t have to wave because the ship was coming for him.
While he was about to enter the ship, he hears a voice asking him if he is leaving anything behind and he says no. The voice comes again asking if there is anything he needs to take from the Island. At this point, he remembered Larry and wanted to go back and look for him, but the voice says to him, “there is no need for that.” The voice further explains to him that when they parted ways to pray, Larry kept asking God to grant his friend’s requests each time he prayed and could not pray for himself. The voice goes on to tell him that Larry’s soul is so precious that God decided to take him to heaven. Finally, the voice says, “go home and learn the lesson about praying for others.
Every Seventh Sunday of Easter, the Gospel Reading takes us the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John which gives us the details about the high priestly prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ during the last supper with the apostles at the upper room. John did not say outrightly where this prayer was rendered. However, we can link it to the last supper because of the mention of “the hour has come” (John 17:1). Another indication is the lost one, (John 17:12), namely, Judas Iscariot who left the Upper Room immediately after receiving the body of the Lord (John 13:27).
Today in the Gospel Reading, our Lord Jesus Christ prays to the Father for his disciples and by extension, for all of us. The prayer shows an intensely personal engagement between the Son and the Father for the sake of those whom the Son would be leaving behind to continue the work his started. We shall examine this prayer under three centers of gravity.
- Divine Unity
Earlier, in one of his teachings, our Lord said that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Matt. 12:25). Unity or oneness is essential for the work of evangelization because it gives one voice and one purpose for those involved in the mission. The major problem among Christians from the earlier apostolic times to the contemporary time is disunity which emanates from distrust, hatred, and the absence of love. Our Lord was explicitly praying for divine unity which is different from ungodly unity which happens when people unite to carry out evil. The ideal unity is the one we achieve in Christ who is one with the Father. Oneness in Christ entails selflessness, patience, and sacrificial love.
- Divine Protection
When our Lord sent the disciples out to preach to all Nations (Matt. 28), he knew that they would have many challenges including the hinderances of the evil one, the devil. In the prayer, our Lord prays earnestly to the Father to protect his disciples from the machinations of the evil one. It is essential that we understand that the protection is not merely from physical harm of the body. It is more about the soul which is the target of the evil whose mission is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
- Divine Sanctification
Earlier in the Gospel of John (4:24), our Lord Jesus Christ said that God is Spirit and those who worship Him must do so in Spirit and truth. In the context of the high priestly prayer, our Lord asks the Father to sanctify his disciples in the truth. When we hear the truth, we often think about the opposite of falsehood, and we are right. In this context, however, we understand the truth in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ who says, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). To be sanctified in the truth is to be configured to Christ in whom there is no deceit (1 Pet 2:22).
The Seventh Sunday of Easter invites us to reinvigorate our prayer life and to be more selfless in our prayer after the manner of our Lord Jesus who first prayed for us and obtained graces for us from the Father in advance even before going into his passion and death. Have a great Sunday and remain under the light of divine protection and sanctification.