Today's entire reading from the Gospel of John is part of a prayer made by a son to his father. Jesus is going down the checklist, as if his father had asked whether he had completed the chores that were assigned. I've made your name known, Abba. The words you gave me, I gave to them. I protected them. Jesus, like any human son, is assuring his beloved father that his duties have been accomplished. But it's verse 13, speaking of his joy, that highlights his humanity and endears him to me even more. Happiness, delight, pleasure--his innermost feeling is revealed, giving us a sense of what he has endured. Unspoken are the years away from his father, the yearning to be back where he belongs, the self-discipline required to be faithful in all things, the intensity of his love. Reunion pictures whiz through my mind; like children running on the tarmac to a returning military dad, or an immigrant son crying with joy as he is united with his absent father once again.
Lord of all joy, with a grateful heart I praise and thank you for loving me so much in spite of the cost demanded of you. Grant me courage for the living of my days as you lived yours. Amen.
John 17:6-19 (NRSV)
6 "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;
8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.
10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.
11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.
14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.
16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.