Commentary on John 17:20-26
In this final part of Jesus’ prayer during his discourse to his disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus now prays for all those who through the influence of disciples before us came to believe in Christ as Lord. Each one of us is among those Jesus is praying for here.
In this prayer Jesus prays above all for unity among his disciples as the most effective sign of witness. “By this will all know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another,” he had told his disciples earlier on in the discourse.
He now prays that we may display the same unity among ourselves and with Jesus as that which binds Jesus and the Father. It is through the love that Christians, coming as they do from so many ethnic groups and all classes of people, show for each other that they give the most effective witness to the message of Christ. “May they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me.”
It is said that, in the early Church, people marvelled, “See those Christians, how they love each other.” In a world divided along so many lines, people were amazed to see Jews and Greeks, men and women, slaves and freemen, rich and poor sharing a common community life in love and forgiveness and mutual support. It clearly would lead people to ask what was the secret of this group.
Is that the witness that we are giving today? What do people see when they look at our parishes? What do they see when they look at our families? What are they to think of the painful divisions of so many groups who claim Jesus as their Lord? How can we maintain such divisions in the face of these words of Jesus?
Obviously, we all have much to think and pray about regarding our “spiritual” life and the impact we make in drawing people to Christ (and that includes bringing back many who have left in confusion and disillusionment).
So let us make our own the last words of Jesus’ prayer today: “I have made your name known to them [his disciples] and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.”