We conclude the Easter Season with one of the most magnificent and tender passages in the New Testament. Jesus prays for his disciples – those who are with him at the Last Supper, and all those who will follow after them. He’s praying for us.
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.” Don’t be afraid to hold this sentence close to your heart. Meditate on it. This is a mystical moment. The Son is speaking to the Father.
Jesus is the living Word that has never left the Father’s lips. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2) Referencing his communion with the Father, Jesus prays that we might be drawn into that same communion. “That they may be one just as we are one.”
Jesus will be arrested within the next few hours. He knows what he must face, and he is facing it with commitment and courage. But before he begins the march to the cross he prays for his disciples. He begins by recalling the relationship he has had with them. “I protected them in your name that you gave me and I guarded them.” But the time is near when Jesus will return to the Father leaving his disciples to carry on with his mission.
In John’s Gospel, the word “world” has at least two meanings. The “world” is creation and every living being in it. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Divine love is in a continual process of redeeming creation, drawing it closer and closer to its heart.
But as Jesus’ prayer continues, he names the enemy he was sent to fight. Here the second meaning of the “world” is introduced. He calls the enemy “the world.” It is the dark energy that stands in contrast to the Divine Light. It is the energy of falsehood and lies. It is the power that sows division and violence. It rules a kingdom of darkness, and its sovereign is “the evil one.”
We must be acutely attuned to this prayer because Jesus is bequeathing his mission to us. Jesus is praying for his disciples who will take up his battle against the “world.” He is praying for you and for me. “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”
The word Jesus speaks is Truth itself. It is the divine life redeeming and cleansing the world God loves of the falsehood that plunges it into the darkness of the “world.” By giving contradictory definitions to the one word, the Gospel spells out our mission. We are called to celebrate and protect God’s creation, and all its people, God’s beloved children. Simultaneously, it is our mission to infiltrate the darkness that perpetuates lies and destruction. We cannot flee the darkness. We must enter it. Redeem it. Bring the Divine Light to it. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.”
His prayer ends with an anointing. “As you send me into the world, so I send them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they may also be consecrated in truth.”
And so we conclude the fifty mystical days of Easter, while we await the power of the Holy Spirit to burn as flame over each of us. Jesus has set the mission. It has been clearly in our mind’s eye. He has consecrated with the divine word of truth. Let us bring the Light into the darkness. Let us dispel the power of the evil one – lies and division. Let us not be naïve. Let us never forget that the “world” will hate us for the mission we bear. For the next ten days we pray to the Spirit to be our fortitude, our wisdom, our right judgment. Strengthened by his prayer let us not fear to combat the “world.” “Let us put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12)