Jesus prays for unity to be a sign of God’s love

Today in John (17: 20-26), Fr Paul says we hear the third and final part of Jesus’ prayer for the church, after which Jesus and the disciples leave the Mount of Olives and head back to Jerusalem.

Jesus having prayed to the Father for his own disciples and community, he now prays for the future disciples who will carry on his work. It is a prayer for unity.  Jesus prays that unity will be a sign of God’s love and a sign of the love we have for each other.

Unity will still have its difficulties – Fr Paul refers us to the short 2nd and 3rd letters of John, where we see unity experiencing difficulty even in the early church.

What Jesus, through the prayer, and John makes us understand, is that if we are fighting among ourselves, it is hard to be a sign of Divine Love.  We can liken it to our own families, says Fr Paul, who as a priest often hears of families who have struggled and fought after the death of a loved one over possessions.

What is at the heart of this example is that Jesus realised, at the end of this prayer, that he is leaving an inheritance; one that is grounded in the love that Jesus shares with his Father. Jesus prays that we will treasure this inheritance and not fight over it and allow it to continue to be a sign of the Father’s and the Son’s love for the world.

Mindful of this, Fr Paul asks us to reflect in our prayer time today on:  How can I strive in my life for unity and love in my family, in my wider community and in my world? And, in striving for that unity and love, can I be a sign then of God’s love?