Commentary on John 17:11-19
Today Jesus continues his prayer for his disciples. He prays for their continued loyalty to the gospel message and for unity among them. He has kept them true to his name. One was lost, although that was foreseen from all time.
They have accepted the message of Jesus and, because of that, they will be hated by the world as Jesus himself was hated. Because, like Jesus, they do not identify with the world and its values and priorities.
At the same time, Jesus makes it very clear that he is not asking that they be removed from the world’s environment, only that they be protected from its evil influences. It is only by being in the world that they will be able to communicate the Gospel message. Armed with truth, with the integrity of Jesus himself, he is sending them into the midst of the world. That is where they are to do their work. They were, as he said elsewhere, to be “the salt of the earth” and the “yeast in the dough”.
Jesus prays that they be consecrated in truth, the truth of God himself. This truth does not consist of a set of dogmas. Rather it consists in the living out lives of perfect integrity and wholeness, in perfect harmony with the will of the Father and the Way of Jesus and dedicated to bringing that truthfulness and integrity to the world. They do this by living lives of love, a love expressed in service to the well-being of all. They have the full backing of Jesus: “I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”
Let us then pray today
- for the unity among us which Jesus prayed for in his disciples
- that we may be ready for the hostility and the indifference of the world
- that we may realise that, if we want to give witness to the Gospel, we must be fully inserted into the world by which we are surrounded. To be ‘holy’ is not to escape and distance ourselves physically from that world, which is what many are tempted to do or even think is the right thing to do.
- that we may be people of complete integrity, that we may be filled with truth and sincerity so that what people see in us is what we truly are and wish to be: disciples of Jesus.