Seventh Sunday of Easter
Gospel: John 17: 11-19
Today, we have another reading from the Last Discourse - where Jesus prays for his disciples.
His first prayer is that they remain united and true to the name of God. Names had a great significance in those days - to know someoneís name gave you a sort of power over them. Jesus had given the disciples a new name for God: Father - Abba - a name which marked the beginning of a new more intimate relationship between God and humanity.
Johnís Gospel is almost one long meditation on this new relationship. And so, John reflects on the words he remembers - where Jesus speaks of leaving the world - of going to the Father - of his prayer that the disciples and friends of Jesus will be protected from the evil one - of Jesusí awareness that the world will come to hate his friends because it recognises that they belong elsewhere.
The words could have made little sense at the time - the disciples still did not believe that Jesus would die. However, Jesus was storing words and images for them to draw on in a future they could not at that time even begin to imagine.
Many Christians in the world still draw strength from the knowledge that Jesus said that his friends would be persecuted and oppressed. Living under regimes which seek to extinguish the flame of faith, people can hear the words in todayís Gospel and remember that they are consecrated in the truth and this is why the world hates them. Even within families, true friends of Jesus can be ridiculed and ostracised.
Sectarianism too can divide people. The Body of Christ can be broken and that which Jesus prayed would be united and consecrated in truth bears the wounds of mistrust and hatred.
Next week, we recall the day when the disciples cascaded into the streets to announce the one proclamation in many different languages. The message spoke to the hearts of the people and three thousand people chose to be united in the one baptism. People from different regions became united in one Lord... united in all their diversity..
What does this mean for me?