First Reading: From the Acts of Apostles 20:17-27
17 From Miletus he sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus.
18 When they arrived he addressed these words to them: ‘You know what my way of life has been ever since the first day I set foot among you in Asia,
19 how I have served the Lord in all humility, with all the sorrows and trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews.
20 I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you; I have preached to you and instructed you both in public and in your homes,
21 urging both Jews and Greeks to turn to God and to believe in our Lord Jesus.
22 ‘And now you see me on my way to Jerusalem in captivity to the Spirit; I have no idea what will happen to me there,
23 except that the Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear to me that imprisonment and persecution await me.
24 But I do not place any value on my own life, provided that I complete the mission the Lord Jesus gave me — to bear witness to the good news of God’s grace.
25 ‘I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again.
26 And so on this very day I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned,
27 for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 68:10-11, 20-21
10 Your family found a home, which you in your generosity provided for the humble.
11 The Lord gave a command, the good news of a countless army.
20 This God of ours is a God who saves; from Lord Yahweh comes escape from death;
21 but God smashes the head of his enemies, the long-haired skull of the prowling criminal.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint John 17:1-11
1 After saying this, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you;
2 so that, just as you have given him power over all humanity, he may give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
3 And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
4 I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.
5 Now, Father, glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world existed.
6 I have revealed your name to those whom you took from the world to give me. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
7 Now at last they have recognised that all you have given me comes from you
8 for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have indeed accepted it and know for certain that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me.
9 It is for them that I pray. I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.
10 All I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified.
11 I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.
Theme: This is eternal life – to know the Father the only true God
In his Last Supper discourse with his beloved disciples Jesus speaks of his glory and the glory of his Father. What is this glory? It is the cross which Jesus speaks of here and the willing offering of his life for us. How does the cross reveal this glory? In the cross God reveals the breadth of his great love for sinners and the power of Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice which cancels the debt of sin and reverses the curse of our condemnation (Romans 8:1). Jesus gave his Father the supreme honor and glory through his obedience and willingness to go to the cross for our sake. In times of defense the greatest honor belongs not to those who fought and survived but to those who gave the supreme sacrifice of their own lives for their fellow citizens.The Lord Jesus freely and willingly offered up his life out of obedience to his Father and love for us.
Jesus reveals the glory of God to us
Jesus speaks of the Father bringing glory to the Son through the great mystery of the Incarnation – the eternal Word who became flesh for our sake (John 1:14) – and the Cross of Christ which won for us pardon, freedom, and new life in the Holy Spirit. God the Father gave us his only begotten Son to set us free from slavery to sin, guilt, and condemnation. His sacrificial death brings us new life – the abundant life of peace and joy which God wishes to share with each one of us. There is no greater proof of God’s love for each and every person on the face of the earth than the Cross of Jesus Christ. In the cross we see a new way of love – a love that is merciful, sacrificial, and generous beyond measure.
Jesus offers abundant life without end
Jesus offers us eternal life. What is eternal life? It is more than simply a life without end or an eternal state of being. Science and medicine look for ways to extend the duration of human life – but God offers us something vastly greater and more surpassing than a simple extension of physical life. Eternal life is qualitative more than quantitative. To have eternal life is to have the very life of God within us. When we possess eternal life we experience here and now something of God’s majesty, glory, and holiness which he shares with us. Through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit, God fills us with the abundant fruit of his peace, joy and love.
We can know God personally
Jesus also speaks of the knowledge of God. Jesus tells his disciples that they can know the only true God. Knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God, but we can know God personally and be united with God in a personal relationship of love and friendship. The essence of Christianity, and what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions, is the personal and experiential knowledge of God as our eternal Father – the one who knew us before creation (Ephesians 1:4 and Romans 8:29) and who knit us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13 and Jeremiah 1:5). Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like.
A unity of love that endures forever
In Jesus Christ we see the perfect love of God – a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross. Jesus is the revelation of God – a God who loves us completely, unconditionally and perfectly. Do you hunger to know God personally and to be united with the Father in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through the unity of the Holy Spirit who dwells with us? The Lord Jesus invites each of us to enter more deeply into a personal relationship of love and oneness of mind, heart, and spirit with the eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who created us in love for love.
“If only I possessed the grace, good Jesus, to be utterly at one with you! Amidst all the variety of worldly things around me, Lord, the only thing I crave is unity with you. You are all my soul needs. Unite, dear friend of my heart, this unique little soul of mine to your perfect goodness.You are all mine; when shall I be yours? Lord Jesus, my beloved, be the magnet of my heart; clasp, press, unite me for ever to your sacred heart. You have made me for yourself; make me one with you. Absorb this tiny drop of life into the ocean of goodness whence it came.” (Prayer of Francis de Sales, 1567-1622)