WHILE HE WAS SPEAKING, Jesus was leading them across the city toward the Mount of Olives, toward the Garden of Gethsemani, where He frequently spent the night in prayer. The streets of Jerusalem were dark and deserted, but as the disciples passed along they caught an occasional glimpse of households eating the pasch by candlelight and singing the Hallel, the paschal hymn (meaning “Praise” psalms – consisting of Psalms 113-118).
When He had finished speaking to them, He paused and stood silent for a moment. Then, looking up to heaven, He began to pray. The hour of His passion was at hand and in this fateful instant He formally dedicated to the Father His work and the sacrifice He was about to make.
He prayed first for Himself, that His Father in heaven show His acceptance of all that He had done and was to do for the redemption of men; that in recompense for this work which redounded to His glory, the Father now in turn glorify Him through His passion, death, and resurrection, and elevate His human nature to the right hand of the Father in heaven. He prayed aloud, associating His disciples with Him, as it were, in this sublime priestly prayer to the Father.
“Father, the hour has come! Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify Thee, even as Thou has given Him power over all flesh, in order that to all Thou hast given Him He may give everlasting life. Now this is everlasting life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Him whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ. I have glorified Thee on earth; I have accomplished the work that Thou hast given Me to do. And now do Thou, Father, glorify Me with Thyself, with the glory that I had with Thee before the world existed.”
Continuing, He prayed for the apostles, these instruments which the Father had given Him and who had received God’s word and kept it. Faithful and devoted servants of the Son, they were therefore also chattels of the Father and thus merited His protection. He Himself was soon to ascend to rejoin the Father in heaven, but the disciples would remain in the world, subject to its temptations as well as to persecution, and He prayed now that the Father would keep them united in faith and free from sin:
“I have manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou hast given Me out of the world. They were Thine, and Thou hast given them to Me, and they have kept Thy word. Now they have learnt that whatever Thou hast given Me is from Thee; because the words that Thou hast given Me I have given to them. And they have received them, and have known of a truth that I came forth from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. I pray for them; not for the world do I pray, but for those whom Thou hast given Me, because they are Thine; and all things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I am coming to Thee. Holy Father, keep in Thy name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are. While I was with them, I kept them in Thy name. Those whom Thou hast given Me I guarded; and not one of them perished except the son of perdition, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, in order that they may have My joy made full in themselves.”
“I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that Thou take them out of the world, but that Thou keep them from evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth. Even as Thou hast sent Me into the world, so I also have sent them into the world. And for them I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
Finally, Jesus prayed for the generations that were to come, members of the Church of the future, who would be led to belief in Him through the preaching of the apostles and their successors. He asked for His Church a unity similar to that which exists between Him and the Father, a unity so striking that it would convince the world of the supernatural origin of the Church and bring men to acknowledge the divinity of its founder. United with Him, His followers will enjoy, even in this life, something of the perfect love and union between Him and the Father.
“Yet not for these only do I pray, but for those also who through their word are to believe in Me, that all may be one, even as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory that Thou hast given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them and Thou in Me; that they may be perfected in unity, and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and that Thou hast loved them even as Thou hast loved Me.”
In conclusion, He expresses His will that those whom He has received from the Father may be united with Him in heaven, to enjoy the vision of the glory of the Son.
“Father, I will that where I am, they also whom Thou hast given Me may be with Me; in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me, because Thou hast loved Me before the creation of the world. Just Father, the world has not known Thee, but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have made known to them Thy name, and will make it known, in order that the love with which Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Meditation: “The glory that Thou hast given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one.” The union between the Father and the Son in the Blessed Trinity is so close and so intimate that it is a mystery which human reason cannot fathom. Yet it is that close union of the Trinity which is given to us by our Lord, in this final section of His high priestly prayer, as the model of our own unity with one another in the Mystical Body. The solidarity of all Christians with Christ and with one another is a doctrine that needs emphasis today, when dissensions and wars have divided men and nations. Do I look upon all Christians as fellow members with me in Christ?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 243-246. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.