WHO IS JESUS AND WHAT HAS HE ACCOMPLISHED?
A biblical reflection on the SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [Year A] – 28 May 2017)
Gospel Reading: John 17:1-11a
First Reading: Acts 1:12-14; Psalms: Psalm 27:1,4,7-8, Second Reading: 1 Peter 4:13-16
The Scripture Text
When Jesus has spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son that the Son may glorify Thee, since Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom Thou has given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. ‘I glorified Thee on earth, having accomplished the work which Thou gavest Me to do; and now, Father, glorify Thou Me in Thy own presence with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was made.”
“I have manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word. Now they know that everything that Thou hast given Me is from Thee; for I have given them the words which Thou gavest Me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from Thee; and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom Thou hast given me, for they are Thine; all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to Thee.” (John 17:1-11a RSV)
The Gospel according to John contains several stories and long sermons that do not appear in the other three Gospels. Scripture scholars believe these speeches are actually John’s meditations on the meaning of Jesus’ life and ministry. Today’s Gospel is part of one of these meditations.
The scene in today’s Gospel is the Last Supper and while Jesus is at the table with His disciples (John never calls them apostles) He begins praying aloud to His heavenly Father. John uses this prayer to shed light on who Jesus is and what He has accomplished.
According to this prayer, Jesus, who existed with the Father even before the world began and who has authority over all creation, came into the world to give glory to the Father and eternal life to those who believe in Him. Now that He has fulfilled this mission, Jesus prepares to entrust His message to His followers so He can return to His heavenly Father. This, in a nutshell, is John’s summary of Jesus’ life.
Scripture scholars have difficulty determining when John wrote His Gospel. Some of them believe it first appeared in its final form between 90-100 A.D. but others think 130 A.D. would be a more accurate date. What they do agree on is that John was the last Gospel account written and that John wrote his Gospel after the early Christians had plenty of time to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ words and deeds.
The authorship of the Gospel is also the subject of much scholarly debate. According to tradition, the authority behind the Fourth Gospel is a man name John. Some people believe this John was John the Apostle but others remind us there were other prominent leaders of the early Church with this same name and that it would have been unlikely for any of the apostles to have lived until 90-100 A.D., the earliest date by which the Gospel is believed to have been written.
Who the author really is will remain a mystery at least for the foreseeable future because nowhere in the Gospel itself is he actually named.
In today’s reading and throughout the Gospels, we find Jesus praying to His Father. If anybody had no need of prayer, it would have been Jesus. Let’s ask ourselves how important is prayer in our lives?
Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the unity of Christians around the world. Send the Spirit anew to Your whole Church this Pentecost. We make our prayer in the most precious name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 26 May 2017 [Memoria of St. Philip Neri, Priest]
A Christian Pilgrim