A Morning Mom’s Reflection on Words of the Risen Christ bible study by Rich Cleveland—16 May 2012 Chapter 1: John 17:1-26:
Jesus High Priestly prayer
(in other words) Jesus’ pep talk to Disciples at the Last Supper
In the beginning verses (vs 1-5), Jesus summarizes his mission as follows: to give God glory through obedience and doing the work God gave Jesus to do, to give eternal life to all God has chosen, to show God’s life and love, to make God known. Jesus gives us an amazingly simple definition of eternal life: to know the only true God and Jesus Christ, his son. Yet to know is more than just a simple head knowledge, but involves accepting, understanding and following a way of love, shown to us by Jesus. As Christians we are called to listen and ponder God’s word, to keep God’s word by living a life of love and self-sacrifice, walking the same path as Jesus, our “personal Lord and Savior.”
For all of us moms, teaching our children about the faith and that “personal” relationship can be challenging. For the most part, we set examples within the home and daily life on living life with respect and love for our God, family members and neighbors. We bring them to our non-entertaining Mass each week, knowing they really don’t comprehend the significance, can barely sit still and poke at each other. Yet with the passage of many years the ritual and routine of it all sinks in deep, so we might begin to contemplate God during mass and let Him in. In fact, we have all seen or heard stories of our elderly family members recite those “repetitious” prayers (Hail Mary, Our Father) at the moment of extreme illness and death, with great serenity. As for us who witness these struggles with illness or the passage to the next life, the ill person brings us great peace and joy as we see their deep faith as they whisper the name of the Lord. We know the Lord is truly present and our loved one is in the hands of God.
In contrast, some of us have seen great struggles and anxiety individuals go through when they lack a personal knowledge and faith in God, and they are now confronted with a personal or family tragedy. Even we, who believe, have struggled to fully surrender all our lives and problems to God. In our usual human fashion we try to be in control at all times, and sometimes feel a heavy burden to keep peace going in our hectic motherly lives. Besides the methods of time out, play in room by self, and go outside and play, a few in the Morning Moms group have tried reciting a daily recommitment to God (Morning Offering prayer). Some of us find surrendering minute by minute, situation to situation, is also helpful. One American Idol star had her wrist tattooed with a feather, symbolizing the lightness of all her problems when given to and managed by God. I think our group is thinking about renaming our group the “Feather Moms,” but we didn’t decide on what kind of feathers we were getting (tattoo, hair accessory, bracelet…)
Continuing on…We discussed our thoughts on the “personal relationship” with Jesus, a very protestant sounding term which we’ve heard more about during homilies at mass. As Catholics, we live a life of unity with the Body of Christ, his Church, so that personal relationship concept can seem a bit foreign. From the verses 6-19, we see Jesus praying for his disciples and find out what the personal connection to the Savior entails: Keep them in your Name, Unity with the Father and Son, a complete share in Christ’s joy, protection from the evil one, consecration in truth.
Keep them in your Name: The revelation of God’s name has several meanings for us. It lets Him be known and be called upon for protection and guidance. It creates intimacy between us and God. It engenders respect, for as we respect His name, we respect the God of all creation. Teaching respect of God’s name is particularly difficult with the children as they are exposed to careless uses of God and Jesus Christ in the school environment. Actually my own children helped me stop with their gentle and never-failing reminders. Another mom found the sacrament of reconciliation brought powerful grace to help her stop misuses of God’s name. A short booklet by Tan Publishing, The Wonders of the Holy Name, by Fr Paul O’Sullivan, goes into more details about this topic. Finally, Pope Benedict wrote in Jesus of Nazareth, II, “The revelation of God’s name is a new mode of God’s presence among men, a radically new way in which God makes his home with them.” Pg 91 How awesome to have God-with-Us always present, never far away!
The prayer for unity occurs four times in this middle section of chapter 17, so it must be important. The goal of unity is so that the world may know Jesus has been sent by God. Pope Benedict writes in Jesus of Nazareth II, (paraphrased) through the unity of the disciples, the truth of his mission is made visible for men and makes visible the workings of a higher power (pg96). We didn’t discuss this too much in our group but this makes an interesting topic for discussion.
On joy: verse 13, “…I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.” I’m still a little fuzzy just what Jesus meant about this joy stuff. Sometimes life just brings you down and you feel the weight of the world. For the sake of sanity and happiness within your family, we moms sometimes keep it all in so as not to ruin everyone’s day, keep peace and not have the whole home situation blow up. Yet in some respects, showing love and giving peace in difficult circumstances can be a gift of God, a fruit of our communion with him. Jesus, faced with an apparently failed mission, nearing arrest and certain death, continued to trust in God. Jesus is rooted in the… “divine “we” of Father and Son through the Holy Ghost controls all things. Here are Jesus roots; here is his peace, source of his invulnerable strength and union. (pg 18, Romano Guardini writings in the book, Words of the Risen Christ). One insightful mom stated, “Joy follows peace.” AHHHH (light bulb going off!). So Jesus in his desperate hours reveals the truth of his mission, but that the world will not accept it and hate it (disciples becoming downhearted), and the world will continue to hate the disciples, as they believe in Jesus word and mission (disciples more bummed). Yet Jesus reveals union with God, leads to all kinds of good: protection from evil, oneness that is brought to perfection, knowledge of and sharing in God’s love, everlasting life and seeing God’s glory: the true joy that God offers after unity with Him (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
Keep them from the evil one, vs15: Much discussion on current topics affecting our nation and church. Secular society views life differently than a Catholic Christian which can lead to bad feelings between family members, friends, classmates, people. Jesus says to expect that the world will hate God’s view on life, so this is something to expect, not be surprised about. Despite the world’s hatred, Jesus calls us to teach, love, listen and ponder God’s word, and spread the message of God’s love. Make sure we teach our children the faith. Be in the world but don’t be a part of the culture of hate and hostility to God. Our church teaches prayer and fasting to overcome difficulties. Be a good citizen and vote for change. Definitely take up Jesus’ advice not to worry or fear! Luke 12:22-34 can be a useful meditation on useless worry.
Finally, consecrate them in the truth, vs 17: Jesus asks that his disciples be completely dedicated to God’s service, which is a mission of love to the world. (Collegeville Bible Commentary, The Gospel According to John, pg72). Ending of the chapter (vs 26) summarizes all that Jesus came to do for us: “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them. “ What an incredible promise! To fully know God and his love, to really take hold of it, within ourselves! Just what are the possibilities for us, knowing that we are joined to the Creator of the universe! Filled with all that He is, how can we not go out to spread that good news?
In the final analysis, Jesus is awesome! He offers us so much if we only open our hearts to believe and trust in Him.