Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) Lectionary Reflection Year C, Seventh Sunday of Easter, Gospel

John 17:20-26

Jesus prayed for his disciples, and then he said. "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

"Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

Reflection on John 17:20-26 by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Having prayed for himself (17:1-5) and for his disciples (17:6-19), Jesus' "high priestly prayer" now intercedes for the Church universal (17:20-26). Whether "the world" (referring to all humanity) will believe in God depends on whether the Church's inner unity will communicate the unity within God (Father and Son).

In 1940 during Hitler's bombardment of his native land England, the Anglican theologian William Temple wrote: "If we are in the Father and the Son, we certainly shall be one, and our unity will increase our effective influence on the world. It is the manifestation of God's love toward us in our mutual love which shall at last convert the world" (Readings in St. John's Gospel, pp. 327, 329; London: Macmillan, 1952 [first pub. 1940]).

Before the "foundation of the world," referring to the cosmic totality, the Father's love for the Son was present. Love came first, then creation. The prayer concludes with the startling petition that the primordial love of the divine Father for the Son "may be in them," that is, in the Church. Here the same love that created all that is also creates the Church. What could be clearer than this bond between Creation-community and Church-community?

To Reflections on the other readings for this day:
First Lesson 1 Samuel 12:19-24 or Acts 16:16-34
Psalm 68 or 47
New Testament Acts 16:16-34 or Revelation 22: 12-14, 16-17, 20
Gospel John 17: 20-26
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John Gibbs, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2001. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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This page last updated 01-03-25.