BY: Fr. Umoh Valentine

HOMILY: For a consecutive three days the Church will take her Gospel readings from John Chapter 17. This chapter have been referred to in biblical tradition as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus (precatio summi sacerdotis). One can compare Jesus’ prayer to Jacob’s benediction in Gen 49, to Moses’ prayer in Deut 32–333, or to similar prayers in Jewish intertestamental literature (e.g. Jub. 1:19–20; 20–2). But in a certain sense Jesus’ prayer is unique since he has already left the world and is coming to his Father (cf. John 17: 11). For liturgical reasons, the Church segments this unique chapter into three and reads them in three consecutive days as follows: John 17: 1-11a (Tuesday); John 17: 11b-19 (Wednesday) and John 17: 20-26 (Thursday). The first could be subtitled: “This is eternal life – to know the Father the only true God;” the second: “Consecrated in God´s truth” and the third: “May they become perfectly one.”

So today, we take our reflection from its first part: John 17: 1-11a. A prayerful and meditative reading of this gospel pericope will reveal the following truths to us: 1. Jesus reveals the glory of God to us 2. Jesus offers abundant life without end 3. We can know God personally.
Jesus speaks of the Father bringing glory to the Son through the great mystery of the Incarnation – the eternal Word who became flesh for our sake (John 1:14) – and the Cross of Christ which won for us pardon, freedom, and new life in the Holy Spirit. God the Father gave us his only begotten Son to set us free from slavery to sin, guilt, and condemnation.

Through His sacrificial death this Jesus brings us new life – the abundant life of peace and joy which God wishes to share with each one of us. Science and medicine look for ways to extend the duration of human life – but God offers us something vastly greater and more surpassing than a simple extension of physical life. It is more than simply a life without end or an eternal state of being. It is a life with God, sharing in the very being of God. When we possess eternal life, we experience here and now something of God’s majesty, glory, and holiness which he shares with us.

Finally, Jesus also speaks of the knowledge of God. His disciples too can know the only true God. This knowledge is not simply limited to knowing “something” about God but knowing God personally and being united with God in a personal relationship of love and friendship. The essence of Christianity and what distinguishes it from Judaism and other religions, is this personal and experiential knowledge of God as our eternal Father – the one who knew us before creation (Cf. Eph 1:4 and Rom 8:29) and who knit us in our mother’s womb (Ps 139:13 and Jer 1:5). Jesus taught us to know and call God our Father (Abba).

Let us pray that we make this prayer of Jesus of John 17 our own personal prayer and recognize and accept God as the only True God and allow His commandments to guide our steps every day of our life so that we may deserve eternal life with Him in the end.

Peace be with you!

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