7th SUNDAY OF EASTER (Cycle A)

Readings:
Acts 1:12-14
Psalm 27:1-2, 4, 7, 8b
1 Peter 4:13-16
John 17:1-11a

Abbreviations: NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), IBHE (Interlinear Bible Hebrew-English), IBGE (Interlinear Bible Greek-English), or LXX (Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation).  CCC designates a citation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The word LORD or GOD rendered in all capital letters is, in the Hebrew text, God's Divine Name YHWH (Yahweh).

God reveals His divine plan for mankind in the two Testaments, and that is why we reread and relive the events of salvation history contained in the Old and New Testaments in the Church's Liturgy.  The Catechism teaches that the Liturgy reveals the unfolding mystery of God's plan as we read the Old Testament in light of the New and the New Testament in light of the Old (CCC 1094-1095).

The Theme of this Sunday's Readings: The Spirit and the Glory
The Resurrected Christ taught His Church for forty days, preparing His Apostles and disciples to fulfill their mission to carry the Gospel of Salvation from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.  Jesus promised them that they would not be alone in their mission.  At the end of the forty days, just before His Ascension into Heaven, Jesus "enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for 'the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'"  In the First Reading, after Jesus' Ascension to the Father and in obedience to His command, the Apostles and disciples gathered together in the Upper Room in Jerusalem in the company of the Virgin Mary.  There they prayed daily for nine days, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, the other Advocate Jesus promised to send to guide His Church. 

The Holy Spirit was present at the Incarnation when He overshadowed the Virgin which led to the birth of Messiah.  It is fitting, therefore, that Jesus' disciples should be praying with His mother while waiting for what will be the Spirit's activity in the birth of the New Covenant Church (see Lk 1:35).  It is Mary, after all, who became "Mother" of His disciples when, at the foot of the Cross, Jesus gave her as "Mother" to the "beloved disciple" who represented the Church full of all Jesus' beloved disciples (Jn 19:27; Rev 12:17).  The Church teaches that like the beloved disciple, we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes, for she has become the mother of all the living.  "The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope" (CCC 2679).

In the Responsorial Psalm, the psalmist expresses his joy in worshiping in God's holy Temple.  He gives three definitions of the LORD: light, salvation, and life's refuge.  Christians connect the psalmist's words, "The LORD is my light," with Jesus' declaration "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jn 8:12).  Our response, "I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living" expresses our hope of joining Christ in glory in Heaven.  It is the hope we have of promised refuge and salvation, not in an earthly Temple, but in the Presence of the Triune God in the heavenly Temple at the end of our life's journey.

In the Second Reading, St. Peter writes that Christ's glory is His reward for accomplishing the work on earth that God the Father gave Him.  Like the Apostles, disciples, Mary, and Jesus' kinsmen who prayed in the Upper Room awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Church continues in obedient prayerful waiting for the return of Christ the King.  We pray knowing that when Christ reveals Himself in His Second Advent that all the faithful will rejoice in His glory.   

The Gospel Reading is from Jesus' High Priestly prayer at the end of the Last Supper.  Christ's glory is the same glory that He had before the Creation event.  He will share His glory with all His faithful disciples who suffer for His sake and who persevere in prayer and obedience until the end of their earthly lives or until Christ comes again, whichever comes first.  In the meantime, you are in the world; however, do not allow the world to seduce you into belonging to it.  Jesus has prayed for you that, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, you will continue to belong to Him and keep faith with Him so that one day you might join Him in glory!

The First Reading Acts 1:12-14 ~ The Church Awaits the Coming of the Holy Spirit
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 When they entered the city they went to the Upper Room where they were staying, Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.  14 All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 When they entered the city they went to the Upper Room ...
Old Covenant Law restricted travel on the Sabbath to not more than 3/4th of a mile or about 1000 meters.  The Mount of Olives was east of the city of Jerusalem and within this limited distance (Acts 1:12).  After the disciples had witnessed Jesus' Ascension to the Father, two angels appeared and told the disciples that Jesus would return in the same way they saw Him leave.  Then, obedient to Jesus' instructions, they returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem and gathered daily in the Upper Room as they remained in continual prayer awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit.

13b  Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 
Verse 13 is Luke's second apostolic list and the fourth in Scripture (see Mt 10:2-4; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:13-14).  As in all the lists, St. Peter is named first as befits his role as the chosen leader of the Apostolic College. 

14 All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Verse 14 records that they devoted themselves with one accord [homothumadon] to prayer...  The Greek word homothumadon, which is perhaps better translated "united as one," emphasizes the spiritual unity of the community.   The Apostles and the men and women disciples, in the presence of the Virgin Mary, remained in prayer as the first Christian community of the Kingdom of the Church.  Notice that Jesus' "brothers," meaning His kinsmen, have also taken their place within the community of believers. 

Included among the "some women" who are in prayer with the community are probably the women disciples who, with the Virgin Mary, accompanied Jesus to Jerusalem from the Galilee for the pilgrim feast of Passover/Unleavened Bread: Mary Magdala, Joanna, Susannah, and Salome the mother of the Apostles James and John Zebedee.  Jesus' disciples Mary and Martha of Bethany, Mary of Cleopas, and Mary of Jerusalem, the mother of John-Mark and kinswoman of Jesus' disciple Barnabas were also probably present (see Lk 8:1-3; 23:49; 23:54-56; 24:1-10, 22; Jn 12:1-6; Acts 12:12; Col 4:10).  The Upper Room where they were staying was probably the same Upper Room where they celebrated the Last Supper and may have been the home of Mary of Jerusalem (Mk 14:15; Lk 22:12).  It will become the regular meeting place for the Jerusalem church (Acts 1:13; 12:12).

and Mary the mother of Jesus
It is significant that St. Luke mentions that the first Christian community is praying in the midst of the Virgin Mary, waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  For Luke, this is the first mention of Mary the mother of Jesus by name since the infancy narrative (see Lk 1:27, 30, 34, 38, 39, 41, 46, 56; 2:5, 16, 19, 34).  St. Luke uses her name more than any other Gospel writer.  It is fitting that Jesus' disciples should be praying with His mother while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit's first appearance on the stage of salvation history was at the Incarnation as the Spirit overshadowed the Virgin which led to the birth of Jesus.  So too is she present now at what will be the Spirit's activity in the birth of the Church (see Lk 1:35).  Jesus gave Mary to the "beloved disciple" as his "Mother" at the foot of the Cross.  The "beloved disciple" represents the Church full of Jesus' beloved disciples who then received the Virgin Mary as their Mother (Jn 19:27; Rev 12:17).  The Church teaches that "Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church.  When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men.  Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes, for she has become the mother of all the living.  We can pray with and to her.  The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope" (CCC 2679).

and his brothers.
With the disciples and the Virgin Mary are Jesus' "brothers," which refers to His kinsmen and not to other biological children of Mary: James, Joseph/Joses, Simon/Simeon and Judas/Jude (see Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3; Gal 1:18-19 and the document "Did Jesus have brothers and sisters").  Cleophas and his son, the Emmaus disciples who had the encounter with Christ in Luke 24:13-35, should probably be included among those kinsmen who were praying.  According to early Church historian, Hegesippus (early to mid-2nd century AD), Cleophas/Cleopas was the brother/brother-in-law of St. Joseph and the father of Simon/Simeon (Church History, Book IV, Chapter 22). 

Jesus' kinsmen, James and Simeon, will become the first two Christian Bishops of Jerusalem, and both men will be martyred for their faith in Christ Jesus.  Jesus privately visited James after His resurrection (1 Cor 15:7).  St. Paul met with Sts. Peter and James on his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion (Gal 1:18-19), and Paul identified James as one of the "pillars" of the Church along with Sts. Peter and John (Gal 2:9).  As bishop of Jerusalem, St. James presided over the Council of Jerusalem with St. Peter in Acts 15.  Paul visited with James on his last trip to Jerusalem and reported his success with the Gentiles in Acts 21:18.  St. Clement of Alexandria called him "James the Just" because of his piety.  Most Church Fathers and Christian scholars credit St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, with writing the New Testament Letter of James, and his kinsman St. Jude , who is probably also present (Jude verse 1), is credited with writing the Letter of Jude .

These are the faithful Jewish men and women of the New Israel and the New Covenant in Christ Jesus.  We are the inheritors of their tradition of faithfulness and persistence in prayer as we prayerfully wait for the promised Second Advent of Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm 27:1-2, 4, 7, 8b ~ The Lord is my Salvation

The response is: "I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living." Or "Alleluia."

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; of whom should I fear?  2 The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom should I be afraid? 
Response
4 One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, that I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his Temple.
Response
7 Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call; have pity on me and answer me.  8b Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
Response

The psalmist celebrates the joy and peace he obtains through worship in Yahweh's Temple.  He proclaims that his life is safe in the LORD by making two assertions followed by two questions (verse 1):

  1. The LORD is my light and my salvation; of whom should I fear?
  2. The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom should I be afraid?

Also notice that the psalmist gives three definitions of the LORD in verse 1: light, salvation, and life's refuge.  The confidence contained in the words "The LORD is my light" is read by Christians in connection with Jesus' declaration "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jn 8:12; also see Jn 1:9).  The Psalmist proclaims that God is a refuge that protects him from the attacks of his enemies (verse 2). 

4 One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, that I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his Temple.
In verses 4 and 7, the psalmist makes two petitions.  In verse 4 the psalmist petitions the Lord in what may have the hope of a present and future fulfillment.  The psalmist feels safe worshipping in Yahweh's Temple where he can give thanks in communion with the Lord.  There may also be the suggestion of hope for the psalmist in an eternal salvation and dwelling in the house of the Lord in His heavenly Temple.  For Christians this is our hope; it is the hope we have in Christ Jesus of promised refuge and salvation not in an earthly Temple but in the Presence of the Triune God in the heavenly Temple at the end of our life's journey.

7 Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call; have pity on me and answer me.  8b Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
This petition, spoken aloud, is a plea from the heart of the psalmist who yearns for an intimate relationship with the Lord that will allow him to see the face of God.  He both "speaks" from the heart of his faith in the Lord and "seeks" his divine presence.  Commenting on this psalm, St. Augustine wrote: "In the most hidden place, where only you may hear it, my heart says to you: 'Lord, I seek your face'; and I will continue in this search, without ever taking rest, so that I may love you freely, for I will never find anything more precious than your face" (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 26.8).  The disciples of Jesus realized that hope of the psalmist as they walked with God the Son in His earthly minister.  As Christians, we have the same hope that one day, if we persevere in faith, that we too will indeed see the face of God in the heavenly Temple

The Second Reading 1 Peter 4:13-16 ~ Glory in Suffering for the sake of Christ
13 Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.  14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  15 But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer.   16 But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.

St. Peter encourages the faithful who, through the Sacrament of Baptism, have died to sin   through the sufferings of Christ (2 Cor 1:5, 7; Phil 3:10).  Raised to new life in Christ, they are united to Him in His suffering so that they may be assured of a share in His glory (1 Pt 1:11; 5:1; Rom 8:17; 2 Cor 4:17; Phil 3:11).  Verse 13 implies more than just following an example.  Peter deepens the meaning of suffering for the sake of Christ by saying that we actually "share in" or have communion in Christ's sufferings (Col 1:24).  He speaks of both a present and a future reality of rejoicing.  We rejoice in our present condition through any suffering we experience from persecution because of our Christian beliefs, but we will experience an even greater cause for rejoicing when Christ returns so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly (verse 13). 

In verse 14 he promises a blessing as a result of suffering for Christ: If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  It is a promise that recalls what Jesus said at the end of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:11-12 ~ Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.  To be insulted for "the name of Christ" refers to the whole person of Jesus Christ and our belief in and obedience to everything He taught. 

Next, Peter turns to the contrast between suffering for the sake of Christ and suffering as a result of temporal punishment for sins.  There is no merit or glory for the sinner in suffering; there is only merit and glory for the righteous.  Then Peter alludes to Isaiah 11:2 when he writes that the righteous who suffer are blessed because "the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon" them (verse 14).  Isaiah wrote of the promised Messiah: On him will rest the spirit of the LORD, the spirit of wisdom and insight.  It is a verse that points to the Messiah in His glory.  Since the Christian's suffering for the sake of belief in Jesus is a participation in the sufferings of Christ, the same Spirit rests upon the suffering believer as the Spirit who rested upon the suffering Christ.

16 But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.
In verse 16 Peter uses the term "Christian" to identify those who are suffering.  The word "Christian" is only found three times in the New Testament.  The community of believers in Antioch, Syria were the first to identify themselves as belonging to Christ as "Christians" in Acts 26:11.  It was the faith community of Sts. Paul and Barnabas.  The word "Christian" was also used by King Agrippa for Jesus' followers in Acts 26:28.  Finally, St. Peter assures us that we must not be ashamed when others degrade us for our faith in Jesus Christ because when we suffer abuse as Christians we are bringing glory to God. 

The Gospel of John 17:1-11a ~ Jesus' High Priestly Prayer: Glory to the Father
17:1 Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: 2 "Father, the hour has come.  Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.  3 Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you send, Jesus Christ.  4 I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work you gave me to do.  5 Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.  6 I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  7 Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, 8 because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.  9 I pray for them.  I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and everything of mine is yours, and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.  11a And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you."

After the Last Supper in the Upper Room of a house in Jerusalem, Jesus delivers a homily to His disciples which He closes with a prayer.  He prays both for Himself and for them.  The prayer is called Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, as He prepares to take His rightful place as the High Priest of the heavenly Sanctuary who offers the continual sacrifice of Himself on behalf of His Body, the Church (Heb 8:1b-3; Rev 5:6; CCC 1137).

John 17:1-5 ~ Part I: Jesus Prays for Himself
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven:  Looking to heaven, with arms raised, is the traditional Jewish position of prayer (Ps 123:1; Mt 14:19; Mk 6:41, Lk 9:15, etc.).  This prayer reminds us of when Jesus taught His disciples the duty and manner of praying and by example prayed the seven petitions of "The Lord's Prayer" (Mt 6:9-13).  Jesus' High Priestly prayer, in fact, fulfills the seven petitions of The Lord's Prayer.  Catechism of the Catholic Church comments on Jesus High Priestly prayer in # 2750-51: "By entering into the holy name of the Lord Jesus we can accept, from within, the prayer he teaches us: 'Our Father!'  His priestly prayer fulfills, from within, the great petitions of the Lord's Prayer: concern for the Father's name; passionate zeal for his kingdom (glory); the accomplishment of the will of the Father, of his plan of salvation, and deliverance from evil (CCC 2750).  Finally, in this prayer, Jesus reveals and gives to us the 'knowledge,' inseparably one, of the Father and of the Son, which is the very mystery of the life of prayer" (2751)Jesus' High Priestly prayer is from John 17:1-26.

Father, the hour has come...
Once again Jesus speaks of His "hour."  The Gospel of St. John refers to Jesus "hour" seventeen times.  In the first half of the Gospel of John, called "The Book of Signs," the "hour" is anticipated as the moment of climax in Jesus' ministry (Jn 2:4; 4:21; 5:25; 7:30; 8:20).  In the second half of the Gospel, called "The Book of Glory," after entering Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus speaks of His "hour" as being imminent.  We understand that His "hour" is not only the climax of His ministry but also the climax of His earthly life (Jn 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1).  John has used the symbol of darkness repeatedly in his Gospel, beginning in the Prologue: What came into being through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in darkness, and darkness has not overcome it (Jn 1:3b-5) In John's Gospel darkness symbolizes sin and the "prince of darkness."  This final "hour" is also the hour of Jesus' final struggle with Satan.

Jesus' death on the Cross is a historical event, but the "hour" of Christ's Passion reaches beyond the historical context.  There are two significant dimensions of Jesus' "hour."  The first is the aspect of His historical life and sacrificial death.  The second is the aspect associated with the liturgical life of the Church: the sacrificial gift of Jesus' life to God the Father and the sacramental gift of Jesus to His Church in the liturgy of the Mass, which cannot be separated.  His liturgical hour is the representation of the Passion of Christ in the Eucharistic celebration.  It is an "hour" that began that night in the Upper Room and is continuously unfolding throughout the centuries in every corner of the world as Christians celebrate the on-going sacrifice of the Mass.

In Jesus' High Priestly prayer, His first petition to the Father in John 17:1 is that God the Father will glorify the Son.  When film director Mel Gibson showed a preview of his film The Passion of the Christ to a mixed audience of Catholic and Protestant clergy, they all praised the film; however, one Protestant clergyman had a complaint.  "But Mel," he said, "Where's the glory?  You didn't show the glory."  Mel Gibson quietly responded, "The glory is in the sacrifice."  Mr. Gibson was absolutely correct.  The glory is in Jesus' sacrificial death.  It is then that the Son glorifies the Father through His obedience and the Father glorifies the Son in accepting His sacrificial death as the atonement for the sins of man.  The Resurrection does not add to Christ's glory.  The Resurrection is for our benefit so that we will see, understand, and believe.

Jesus' makes a second petition in John 17:2-3 ~ Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.  3 Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you send, Jesus Christ. 
His second petition is that He may give the gift of eternal life to all those who believe in Him.  It is through the Son's glorification that God gives man the opportunity to receive eternal life through "knowing" (the intimacy of a covenant relationship) God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.  This covenant intimacy, in turn, results in the glorification of both the Father and the Son and also unites man through participation in the Sacraments with Christ, giving redeemed man a share in the divine glory.  It is this gift of covenant knowledge that was promised in Jeremiah 31:34 and quoted in Hebrews 8:6-13.  The central message of the inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews is that the New Covenant fulfilled and replacing the old in the revelation of a new "knowing" the Lord: And they shall not teach, each one his fellow citizen and kinsman, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest (Heb 8:11, underlining added).

Verse 3 is the second time St. John has referred to Jesus by the title "Jesus Christ," which literally means "Jesus Messiah" (also see Jn 1:17).  Eternal life isn't only the survival of the righteous soul after death.  This is clear in Jesus' teaching of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25:41-46: 41 Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angles.' [...] 46 And these will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (underlining added for emphasis).  Everyone will share survival of the soul, but the conditions of that survival are the vital difference.  Eternal life for righteous believers in Christ is to enter into the fullness and intensity of the life of the Most Holy Trinity (also see Dan 12:2; Mk 3:29; Jn 3:16, 36; 5:28-29; 6:40, 54, 10:28; Rev 20:11-15).

Up to this point in Jesus' first Advent in Salvation History, the instrument of revelation to the covenant people has been Mosaic Law, the writings of the prophets, and the oral teaching of the priesthood; these had been the instrument of divine revelation to the Israel of the Old Covenant Church.  Now revelation comes to all people who believe in Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

that they should know you, the only true God...(verse 3)  "to know," as mentioned earlier, is "covenant language."  In the Biblical context, "to know" is not merely the result of an intellectual process to access and store information.  It is to have intimate, personal knowledge that results in a covenantal relationship.  When a man and a woman marry, they not only come to know each other in the sense that they are familiar with each other's likes and dislikes and goals and dreams.  Their "knowledge" of each other is expressed intimately when they are joined in a covenantal union which results in the marital act that will provide the next generation.  That is why Biblically "to know" means sexual intimacy as well as covenantal union.

In the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34, Yahweh promises the time will come when all will "know" Him "from the least to the greatest."    The sign of this intimate knowledge of Yahweh is the sign of the establishment of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31).   According to Jesus in John 17:3, the characteristics of the believer's knowledge of God in His glory is the intimate covenant relationship with God the Father, through God the Son and the Holy Spirit who acts as the believer's Advocate.  It is God the Holy Spirit who is sent by the Father through the Son and who will, as the "Spirit of Truth," will lead believers to the complete truth that is found in the new and eternal Covenant in Christ Jesus (Jn 15:26; 16:13).

The New Testament doctrine of the Trinity builds on the Old Testament doctrine that Yahweh alone is God.  That Yahweh is the "One" (or the "Only") and that God is "True" are the traditional biblical attributes of God.  For biblical references to "One" (or "Only") see Isaiah 37:20 and John 5:44, and for references to the "True" God, see Exodus 34:6 and Revelation 6:10.  That God is the "One, True and Holy God" is what the Old Covenant profession of faith in Deuteronomy 6:4 and 32:39, and in the New Covenant text in John 17:3 expresses.  Also see CCC#s 234, 236-237; 243-245; 245-255.

The knowledge of the One True God begins when one is intimately united to Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist (Jn 6:53-58) and in being obedient to His commandments (Jn 14:15; 15:10).  This union with Christ and obedience to His commandments is to "know" the living God in His Triune glory (Jn 14:13-14, 1 Jn 3:21-24).  It is much more than an intellectual knowledge.  It must include a relationship of love, friendship, and communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that continually grows throughout one's faith journey until union with Him is complete when the journey has ended.  At that time our earthly temples (our bodies) are judged and, God willing, we will be united into the Divine Life of the Most Holy Trinity in Heaven.

John 17:4-5 ~ I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work you gave me to do.  5 Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.
This verse is Jesus' third petition.  He had His former glory as the Pre-Incarnate Son of God.  Jesus was united in glory with the Most Holy Trinity before the creation of the world (John 1:1-3).

Between verses 1-5, Jesus has used the word glory/glorify five times in the Greek text.  The word "glory/glorify" in Greek is doxazo.  According to Biblical scholars, this verb is used 61 times in the New Testament, 23 times in St. John's Gospel alone.  In the Hebrew language, this word is kavod/kabod from the Hebrew root word meaning "heaviness" or "weight" (Brown-Driver-Biggs Hebrew-English Lexicon; Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon).  In the biblical perspective, the glory of God is the magnificence and fullness, or the "weight," of His eternal Being.  St. Paul expresses the Hebrew concept of God's eternal glory when he writes: The temporary, light burden of our hardships is earning us forever an utterly incomparable, eternal weight of glory, since what we aim for is not visible but invisible.  Visible things are transitory, but invisible things eternal (2 Cor 4:17-18 NJB emphasis added).

In this part of the prayer, Jesus is praying about His sacrifice and His Resurrection in which not only His divinity but His humanity will be glorified.  We were first introduced to the theme of glory in the Prologue in John 1:14 ~ And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.  The "glory" of God is the manifestation of His presence (Ex 24:16a: Cloud covered the mountain.  The glory of Yahweh rested on Mount Sinai and the cloud covered it for six days NJB).  In the Old Covenant, no one could witness God's glory and live: "But my face," he said, "you cannot see, for no human being can see me and survive" (Ex 33:20).  Therefore, the function of the "Glory Cloud" (the pillar of cloud that was visible at night as the pillar of fire in Exodus), was to manifest Yahweh's presence and yet shield the people from His glory.  But in the Incarnation, the glory of God is hidden in Jesus' human nature.  It was in the Transfiguration experience that the Apostles Peter, James, and John witnessed the true nature of the Christ that He had hidden from them (Mt 17:1-8; Mk 2:2-8; Lk 9:28-36; 2 Pt 1:16-18).

Jesus' obedience to the Father in His mission glorifies the Father (Jn 13:31; 14:13), and in turn, the Father glorifies the Son in His obedience and their unity of will (Jn 8:54; 11:4).  Jesus, the Eternal Son of the Father, possesses the divine glory of His Father made evident through His miracles and the gift to the Father of His sacrificial death on the cross.  Now in His prayer, Jesus petitions God the Father to glorify His humanity.  Jesus will offer His human body in sacrifice, and He will arise from the dead possessing an imperishable glorified body as well as all the power and authority to participate in the eternal glory that He already possesses in His divinity.  St. Paul explains Jesus' transformed humanity in 1 Corinthians 15:35-50.  St. Paul explains that, at Jesus' Resurrection, the Holy Spirit filled His risen glorified body with Divine Power.  In His glorified body, Jesus passes from the state of death into another life not limited by time and space.  He shares the divine life in His glorious state in His humanity as well as in His divinity, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is "the man of heaven."

CCC# 645: "By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his passion.  Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ's humanity can no longer be confined to earth and belongs henceforth only to the Father's divine realm.  For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith."   Also see John 17:5, 24 and CCC# 646-554.

John 17:6-11a ~ Jesus' Priestly Prayer Part II ~ Jesus prays for His disciples
6 I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  7 Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, 8 because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.  9 I pray for them.  I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and everything of mine is yours, and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.  11a And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you."

6 I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 
In Scripture, the "name" indicates the entire person.  It was part of Jesus' mission to mankind, as prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34, to reveal "the name," the entire person of God the Father through God the Son in His words, His works, and His sacrifice (see Jn 3:11-13; 12:28; 14:7-11; 17:3-6, 26).  One way Jesus "revealed" the Divine Name of God was by repeatedly identifying Himself with the divine name "I AM" (The Divine Name Yahweh is understood to mean "I AM" as Jesus demonstrated: see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1; 8:24; 8:28; 8:58; and 13:19). 

CCC# 2812: "Finally, in Jesus the name of the Holy God is revealed and given to us, in the flesh, as Savior, revealed by what he is, by his word, and by his sacrifice.  This is the heart of his priestly prayer: 'Holy Father...for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.' (John 17:11)  Because he 'sanctifies' his own name, Jesus reveals to us the name of the Father.  At the end of Christ's Passover, the Father gives him the name that is above all names: 'Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father'" (see Phil 2:9-11).

... and they have kept your word.  Jesus is affirming that disciples God called and gave to Him have kept the Gospel message of the Living Word in its entirety. 

7 Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, 8 because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.
John 17:8 should be more literally read: the words you gave me (underlining added for emphasis)Comparing "your word" in verse 6 and "the words" in verse 8, you will notice that there is a difference in meaning. "Your word" is the entire Gospel message while "the words" indicates its constituent parts.  Jesus is now expressing confidence in His disciples that they do understand His mission as well as His true identity.

9 I pray for them.  I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and everything of mine is yours, and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.
Once again Jesus expressed His unity with the Father, but there is also a remarkable revelation that Jesus makes concerning His relationship and the Father's relationship to the disciples.  The revelation is that one cannot accept Jesus unless one belongs to God and one cannot belong to God unless one accepts Jesus Christ: because they are yours, 10 and everything of mine is yours, and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.  The equivalence between those who belong to God the Father and those who belong to God the Son indicates that it is not the creation of an individual that makes a person belong to God but the individual's response to Jesus as Savior and Lord that makes him or her a child of the Father

11a  And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you."
It is this verse that gives us the sense that Jesus has already begun His walk to Calvary.  The important key is to understanding this verse is that Jesus says to the Father: I am coming to you. 
It is interesting that in verses 10 and 11 the Greek word kai, which means  "and," is used in two sets of threes for a total of 6 times in the Greek text: three times in the first three lines of verse 10 and again in the first three lines of verse 11.  The literal translation is: And things my all thine [yours in the singular] are and thine mine and I have been glorified in them and no longer I am in the world and these in the world are and I to thee come (IBGE, vol. IV, page 305)A series of repetitions usually connects the passage or related passages, but repetition can also connect the passage to the symbolic significance of a number. Three is the number of fullness or importance.  Six is the number of man who was created on the sixth day of Creation and often represents man in rebellion against God.  The connection is possibly to Jesus' discussion of "the world" in relation to "those of the world" (men and women) who reject Him and to whom the disciples no longer belong, having been perfected in the glory of Christ. 

You are in the world, but do not allow yourself to belong to the world.  Jesus has prayed for you that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit you will continue to belong to Him and keep faith with Him so that one day you might join Him in glory!

Catechism References:

Acts 1:12-14 (CCC 726, 1310, 2617, 2623, 2673)

Psalm 27:8 (CCC 2730)

1 Peter 4:14 (CCC 693)

John 17 (CCC 2604, 2746, 2758); 17:1 (CCC 730, 1085, 2750); 17:2 (CCC 2750); 17:3 (CCC 217, 684, 1721, 1996, 2751); 17:4 (CCC 1069; 2750); 17:5 (CCC 2750); 17:6-10 (CCC 2751); 17:6 (CCC 589, 2750, 2812); 17:7 (CCC 2765); 17:8 (CCC 2812); 17:9 (CCC 2750); 17:10 (CCC 2750); 17:11 (CCC 2747, 2749, 2750, 2815, 2849)

Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2014; revised 2017