Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Jesus prays this great prayer for all of us. For the next three days we will hear this prayer that He offers for His people; let the words of this prayer enter deeply into your hearts.
“…that your Son may give eternal life to all you gave Him.”
Ponder this. God the Father gave us to His Son, and His Son gives us eternal life. This is the same Jesus who said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” (John 15:9) How has the Father loved Jesus? He gives Himself, fully, in love to His Son: the Son’s very life, His very being is a gift of love from the Father. The Father gives us to His Son and the Son gives us…Himself. This is what Jesus refers to when He says at the beginning of our Gospel today, “Father, the hour has come.” It is the hour in which He goes to His passion and death.
Jesus then defines eternal life for us: to know the only true God and the one whom He sent. How is that eternal life? Jesus is not saying that eternal life is a matter of intellectual knowledge but rather personal, intimate knowledge. The Greek here comes from the same word for “knowledge” used in the Septuagint when the Old Testament speaks, for example, of Adam “knowing” his wife: it is a knowledge that gives and begets life, a total gift of self that makes one completely known to the other. In other words the Father gave us to the Son that He might know us and we might, in turn, come to know God.
Our Lord speaks of this exchange quite clearly a little later when He speaks of praying not for the world but for those who have been given Him by the Father: “…because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine…” Friends, we belong to God. The world may seem like an inescapable reality, suffering may overwhelm us and we may be tempted at times to despair of ever knowing real freedom. But today’s readings, especially in the light of Christ’s ascension not from the world but above it, confirm for us that we do not belong to the world, as though it owns us. Rather, we belong to God, He who knows us perfectly and who desires for us to know Him. Though we remain here, for now, we are not abandoned, nor are we forgotten.