This morning’s Gospel from John needs to be put into context in several ways. First, how it fits into the church year. Earlier this week, we marked the Feast of the Ascension. While that story is not told in John’s Gospel, it is assumed throughout the Christian faith. Next Sunday if Pentecost Sunday as we receive the gift of the Spirit, in what really is the birth of the Church. Within John’s Gospel, this passage is part of a larger prayer which is in a way, John’s understanding of the Last Supper, which is also not part of the fourth Gospel. While does not have Jesus take bread and wine, bless and distribute; there is a strong corollary in the themes in this passage.
Two things that stand out for me. Jesus several times says He gave his disciples the word. That, no doubt is a reference to Jesus self giving, as the first verses of John’s Gospel clearly equate Jesus with the logos, the word, which is has always been.
In John’s version, Jesus sanctifies the disciples. The Greek word used here is the same word that Jesus uses in the Matthew and Luke in the Lord’s Prayer as he says of God “Hallowed be your Name.” (you guessed it, the Lord’s Prayer is not found in John’s Gospel.)
Now, I would suggest that in his prayer for the apostles, Jesus is, by extension, praying for us, the continuing followers of the faith and the disciples of this day. To be hallowed in the same way God is hallowed, is a rather intimate understanding for us in Jesus prayer in this Gospel passage. So, some questions for you to ponder: What does it mean to be hallowed? What are we called to, as a result, as disciples? Do we feel that connected to Jesus?
This is another whole sermon, but I am convinced that faith is never a spectator sport, that we are called to be interactive with God, via the gift of the Spirit. Faith is not something that others do, but rather it is the life and breath of each of us.
I have spoken before of the “Brother Give Us a Word” devotional that I receive via email each day from the SSJE in Cambridge, Mass. The one for Friday helped put this whole homily into perspective for me. Thanks to Brother Luke for these words. “Listen to me, Jesus says. Listen with still posture and eyes closed. Listen while walking or letting yourself dance. Listen looking up gazing at bright green leafed trees. Listen kneeling in soil to tend plants springing to life, Stop to smell the flowers and listen. Jesus the good shepherd has so many good things to say to you. Be still and listen.”
The Rev. Canon Keith Nethery