John 17 – the “Priestly Prayer” | Community News

I ask not only those, but also those who will believe in me by their word. To begin his prayer, Jesus includes those of the world who have not yet believed. So that all may be one, like you, Father, you are in me, and I in you, so that they too may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. The Word of the Lord will not come back empty. It will fulfill its purpose.

The purpose of the Word is to create one, to bind, to gather, to find the lost, to rescue the dying and the dead.

As Jesus says his prayer, he knows that his apostles will soon begin their apostolic mission, to bring his Word to the world, beginning in Jerusalem. Their work will be the foundation on which the Church will be built. Now, if the church is only partially united, then the unity is wrong. If the Church builds on sand, rather than on the Rock of the Word, then its unity is false. If there are false believers; if there are nominal Christians only; or if the Word is perverted… then the saving impact of the Word on the world will be reduced. It is the prayer of Jesus when he prays: I do not ask only those, but also those who will believe in me by their word, that is to say the Word that the Apostles received from the Lord – that the Christ suffers and upon him would rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. The world is brought into this unity if and only if the church bears and proclaims the Word which creates and sustains faith. In this way, Jesus prays for the world, that his church be one in the Word.

There will still be many who will not give in to this impression. They will harden their hearts when the Word confronts and convicts them. Often they will use the divisions caused by wrongdoing believers as an excuse for their unbelief. Now the church can demonstrate the saving power of the Word by being one. But if the church isn’t one, the Word still saves – the church just won’t prove it.

In any case: the Word of the Lord saves. Jesus prays: I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one… As you sent me into the world, I also sent them into the world. The world has everything to gain from harmony in the church.

When we lose focus on our hope; when dissension rises in the ranks; when we fail in the mission commanded by the Lord to preach the Word, the world and its lost are forsaken. And this unity is like no other. The unity of believers must be that of the essential and mystical unity of the divine Persons. Jesus prays: May they be one as we are one, I in them and you in me. It is our “marketing tool”. 2 This is our “evangelization strategy”. This is our “fundraising campaign”. This is how we “engage the community”.

The harmony of the saints will create an irresistible curiosity among unbelievers and those who are estranged from the church. The world is attracted by the meaning of the unity of the church. And this curiosity, kindled by the Holy Spirit, is the beginning of faith. The world has tried and will always try to recreate the unity offered only by the Church and the Word. The world cannot be the church. Likewise, the church cannot be the world and expect to serve its mission.

Be one in the Word and the Word will do the rest. Amen

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