Jesus’ Prayer (Easter 7)

May 24th, 2009 Posted in writing

This year, the gospel for the 7th Sunday of Easter (John, chapter 17) is a section of the Lord’s prayer — not the Our Father but Jesus’ prayer the night before he died — in which Jesus asked God to protect the disciples (and us) from evil and keep us united.

To be protected from evil doesn’t mean that evil will never happen to us, because in the same prayer Jesus said that we would suffer the world’s hatred, just as he had. Rather, I believe he is asking his Father to guard us from becoming so infected by the evils we suffer that they become a corrupting force within us, making us willing to do evil to others. When that happens and we become doers of evil, then evil has gained the mastery over us.

And Jesus’ request that God keep us “one” doesn’t mean that everyone has the same gifts and talents. St. Paul explicitly says that isn’t the case.  Instead, I think that we are one when we practice the kind of love that is open to diversity instead of being fearful of it. Being one is about a unity rooted in affection and esteem that stops us from seeing others and their beliefs as threats to be condemned and eliminated. We are one when we make room in our hearts for our brothers and sisters who perceive things in ways we do not.

Jesus could have prayed for many things, of course, but these two were the most important to him on that night before he was crucified. If they are so important to him, shouldn’t they be important to us, too, and shouldn’t we pray and work for them as well?

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