For the Seventh Sunday of Easter, the first and second reading flow both chronologically and causally from the events of the Gospel. The fact that you are reading or hearing the Gospel is proof that the power of Jesus’ prayer is working in you.
Take a closer look at Jesus’ prayer. Jesus spent three years ministering with His apostles and disciples. They witnessed countless miracles, including a two-fold multiplication of loaves and the healing of the lame, blind, deaf and dumb. They have seen Him casting out demons and bringing people back to life.
Yet at this moment, His betrayer is on his way to turn Him over. The apostles themselves are not a stable lot. Peter is about to deny Him and the others scatter when He is arrested.
Jesus surrenders all the shortcomings, failures and inadequacies of His apostles and disciples into the hands of His Father. In doing so, He teaches us how to trust His Father. His prayer is a prayer of surrendering to the Father, not only His life’s work, but also His followers.
“Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”
In a sense Jesus says: “Father, I have done the best that I could. I place it into your hands. I surrender not only my body to you on the cross but also all my works on this earth. It is up to you to use what I have done to glorify yourself and glorify me.”
Jesus prays not only for His disciples but also for all those who will believe because of their witness. Look at the power flowing from His prayer: St. Stephen, the first martyr, is joyful and serene when he has the opportunity to give his life for Christ as Christ gave His life for Stephen.
Not only that, but like Jesus on the cross, Stephen forgives those who are stoning him. This power of forgiveness flows from Stephen into the hearts of his executioners. Those executing Stephen are piling their cloaks at the feet of Saul.
From there, Saul is on his way to Damascus, breathing murderous threats against Christians. However, he didn’t know that Stephen’s prayer was traveling with him, and so suddenly the risen Christ appears and asks: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
Christ’s prayer for His disciples and also for “those who will believe in me through their word” continues to electrify the early Church. Jesus’ followers are vying with one another to have the privilege of suffering for the sake of His name. In a sense they are “bitten” by Jesus’ prayer. The joy of evangelization begets evangelization. This formula flows from Christ’s trusting prayer to His Father.
Jesus continues: “that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” Here Jesus reveals to His disciples that the Father loves them as much as He loves Jesus Himself.
Think about it: Jesus says that the Father loves you and me as much as He loves His Son Jesus!
He then prays: “Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you give me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
Jesus prays that someday His followers will be with Him in glory and see the glory the Father is giving Jesus and His followers.
In the second reading from the Book of Revelation, Jesus’ desire is realized. John hears a voice from heaven saying: “Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. …The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let the hearer say, ‘Come.’ Let the one who thirsts come forward and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.”
The Gospel opens our eyes to see just how powerful Jesus’ prayer is for us and through us. His prayer has propelled His Gospel message through 2,000 years, through all the cultures of the world. His prayer also opens our eyes to see the incredible love the Father has for us.
When you pray for the salvation of your loved ones, you participate in the power of the prayer of Christ for His Church. You pray as a beloved daughter or son of an all-loving Father!
As you reflect on Jesus’ prayer in this Gospel, sit up and rejoice at the dignity He has given you, to help Him bring disciples into the Church. Your prayers for the salvation of your loved ones are Christ’s prayer to the Father. Your prayer stands between your loved ones and the Evil One who is trying to steal those persons from Jesus. Remember, Jesus told us: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
Sit up and take a new look at the dignity Christ has given you in His prayer before the Father, then use this dignity to help Jesus snatch sinners out of the hands of the Evil One!