The Prayer of our Lord and Mothers’ Day

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by Rev. Canon David B. Tabo-oy

“ While Jesus was with his disciples, he could protect them. But now, things are changing. And so he prays: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one.” And the reason he is praying for their protection is important: it is “so that they may be one.” ”

v9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. v10All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. v11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one…
v15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. v16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. v17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. v18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. v19And for their sake I consecrate myself,that they also may be sanctified in truth.Read: John 17:6-19***

Every year on this seventh Sunday of Easter, which is the last Sunday of Easter before Pentecost, our gospel reading is taken from this very famous prayer in John 17. It is a beautiful, inspiring prayer offered by Jesus for his disciples, and for all “those who will believe in [him] through their word” (John 17:20).
It’s the night of the last supper. Jesus has washed the disciples’ feet. A final meal has been shared. He’s told them he’s leaving. The end is near. Judas left the table and went out into the night. According to John, Jesus is “troubled in spirit.” He knows his friends will abandon him. “You will leave me alone,” he tells them. Peter will deny him three times. Thomas doesn’t know the way. Philip wants to see the Father. And Jesus feels the world’s hate. And Jesus prays for the disciples and for all who believes in him.
***
While Jesus was with his disciples, he could protect them. But now, things are changing. And so he prays: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one.” And the reason he is praying for their protection is important: it is “so that they may be one.”
A little later in this same prayer, he prays specifically that we would be protected from the evil one. Protected, so that they may be one. The truth is that the evil one wants nothing more than for us not to be one. Because he knows that a house that is divided cannot stand. The devil doesn’t care what churches argue about, just as long as we are arguing. The devil, I am sure, is delighted in our petty squabbles in the church. Because if we are arguing about something – anything! – then we are not able to give ourselves fully to the task of being the church in the world. And we are not one, which Jesus wants for us. So he prays, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one.”
***
What He Prays for: Sanctify Them in the Truth.
Sanctify, literally means to be set apart. Jesus is praying that we would be set apart. We do not belong to the world, he says in this prayer, just as he does not belong to this world. We do not belong to the world, but we are sent into the world, he also says. So, we are set apart from the world in order to be sent into the world.The world can be a tough place to try and stay afloat. Even without a pandemic, there are many trials and tribulations in this world. As it has been famously said, we ought to be kinder than necessary, for everyone is fighting some sort of battle. The world is full of battles. But we are not of this world anymore. We follow Jesus. We know that our God loves us and all this world, and that makes all the difference. We have made our way onto the lifeboat, or more accurately, Jesus has lifted us onto his lifeboat. Now, we are in a unique position to help others.
***
In a recent column in the Christian Century a writer reminded us of something C.S. Lewis preached at Oxford University more than 60 years ago. Hitler had invaded Poland only six weeks earlier, and England was at war. The undergraduate college students there at Oxford were frightened–many of them would face death soon, and altogether too many would die. Here is what Lewis told them: “If we had foolish unchristian hopes about human culture, they are now shattered. If we thought we were building up a heaven here on earth, if we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgrimage into a permanent city satisfying the soul of man, we are now disillusioned, and not a moment too soon.”The world is a dangerous place. There is much that is good about this world and this life–we are surrounded by God’s gifts and we are right to take joy in them now and hope that we and our children can take joy in such things in also the future. But final security and ultimate hope are not going to emerge from what we or any nation can achieve this side of God’s kingdom coming in all its fullness. That hardly means that as Christians we have nothing to say, however.
***
Jesus. Our way, our truth, and our life. Who loves us, who died for us, and who prays for us. Then and now. Praying that we would be protected from evil. Praying that we would be one. And praying that we would be so secure in his truth, that we would be able to rescue those around us, who are struggling to find a truth on which to rest, and to build a life of meaning and hope. Jesus is that truth. And he asks that we share it with the world. Let us do so faithfully, to the glory of God.
***
This Sunday is also Mothers’ Day.My mother passed on the great beyond early last month and this occasion cuts deep in my heart. This observance is just one of so many that we Filipinos have adopted from the Americans in our calendar of special occasions. While it is wonderful that we set aside one day to especially honor mothers, let us reflect for a moment on all of the things mothers do for us. Let me write again what I wrote several years ago on this special occasion for mothers. First of all, they bring us into the world through a biological miracle that is amazing, but certainly not easy. Then they spent the next two decades preparing meals, solving problems, kissing boo-boos, helping us learn everything from how to brush our teeth to how to navigate the difficulties of the “real world.” They spend the rest of their lives fretting and worrying about us. They care for us in a way that is beyond words. They sacrifice for us in ways beyond words. Even after they have passed on, and Mother’s Day can be especially difficult for those of us who have lost mothers, their influence is so powerful that it stays with us always. One day is nice, but it is not enough.
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A TRIBUTE TO MOTHERS (by David Weatherford)
Your gentle guidance has immeasurably influenced all that I have done, all that I do, and all that I will ever do.Your sweet spirit is indelibly imprinted on all that I have been, all that I am, and all that I will ever be.Thus, you are a part of all that I accomplish and all that I become.And so it is that when I help my neighbor, your helping hand is there also.When I ease the pain of a friend, she owes a debt to you.
When I show a child better way, either by word or by example,You are the teacher once removed.
Because everything I do reflects values I learned from you,Any wrong that I right, any heart I may brighten, any gift that I share, or burden I may lighten, is in its own small way a tribute to you.
Because you gave me life, and more importantly, lessons in how to live, you are the wellspring from which flows all good I may achieve in my time on earth.For all that you are and all that I am, thank you, Mom.
TO ALL MOTHERS, CHEERS! FOR SO MANY YEARS!
Let us pray.
Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday after the Ascension
O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son
Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to
strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior
Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (BCP)


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