As the time for his departure from the world draws near, Jesus rounds off his instruction to his disciples. His attention turns towards the welfare of the disciples whom he will be leaving behind for the continued propagation of the good news of salvation. They have learned to depend on him in all difficult situations, but now, he must go to suffer and return to the Father. Hence, his concern about their survival in the trials that were about to visit them when he will not be physically there to guide. Jesus undertakes a long reassuring parting address promising not to leave them as orphans but to send them the Holy Spirit (John 14:16 -18). He concludes his discourse with a long priestly prayer to his father on their behalf (John 17).
This concluding discourse and prayer signals the end of his teaching ministry. It culminates in his self -revelation to his beloved disciples, a self-revelation that is no longer figuratively, but in plain terms, telling them about the Father, from whom he has come (John 16:25-28). However, he admonished his disciples not to be afraid because the Father also loves them for listening to him (John 16:28). By their response, the disciples seem to have understood his message and so exclaimed “Ah! now you are speaking plainly, and not in any figures! Now we know that you know all things and need none to question you; by this we believe that you came from God” (John 16:29- 30). He also alerts them about the coming tribulations they will face and assures them of their victory in him: “In the world you have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Interestingly, Jesus did not pray that the father should take them away from the world because of the tribulations or take the tribulation away from them, rather he prays that they withstand the tribulations knowing that they will be victorious. Similarly, God does not take away tribulations from us rather he gives us the grace to overcome them. Therefore, we followers of Christ do not need to run away in the face of trials, rather we pray for the grace of God to confront them and be victorious over them.
The gospel passage for this Sunday indicates that Jesus raises his eyes up to heaven, to the heavenly Father and begins his priestly prayers for his beloved ones. He begins with an announcement that the hour has finally come! He has prophesied severally about this coming of this hour even up till his address a while ago (John 16;25,32). Finally, that hour of his passion and our redemption has come because shortly after this prayer, Jesus will be arrested (John 18). He courageously approaches his passion and even describes it positively as the hour of glorification. Glorification for Jesus (“glorify your son”), and through him, the father “that the son may glorify you” (John 17:1). The glorification for Jesus’ disciples and for us all is the gift of eternal life which comes from accepting the message of salvation inherent in the savior’s passion as a means of revealing the father and his love for us all (John 3:16). While leaving the world to return to the Father our savior entrusts us with continuing his mission and so prays for us who are still in the world that we may be protected and kept forever in the divine truth till we also complete our own works and come to enjoy the same glory he enjoys in heaven. Our own glorification therefore, lies in the reward of eternal life which Jesus has gained for us.
After the departure of Jesus, the disciples continued in their master’s footsteps. In the first reading, after Jesus’ ascension they returned to Jerusalem and went into the upper room to continue in prayers for the mission ahead (Acts 1:12-14). They remained there until they were empowered through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Our blessed mother the Virgin Mary was with them in prayer in the upper room. Prayers and the fortifying gifts of the Holy Spirit helped them to surmount all the challenges and tribulations in the missions. They rejoiced in their trials and considered themselves privileged to share in the passion of the redeemer (1 Peter 4:13-16).
He entreats the father to keep us faithful in the face of trials and tribulations! Jesus invites us to pray to the Father at all times for the Father knows us and loves us. As the prophet Isaiah says, God knows us individually. He calls each of us by our names, and has redeemed us as his people (Isaiah 43:1-3). Let us listen to our Savior, and call upon him at all times, so that in our lives, God is glorified through him, let us pray: “Father glorify me and glorify your name forever in my life!”
Fr Stanislaus OkonkwoBACK TO LIST