This Week’s Focus: Just Visiting
"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. John 17: 6-19
In this week’s Gospel Jesus prays for you and me, and all of us who ever have and ever will follow him. He prays that we will be loved, protected and made holy. He sees that his time on earth will be brief but wants to live on in us. He is going home to the Father, yet staying with each of us. And as he was sent by the Father into this world, he now sends us out to continue his work.
Perhaps it is because his Passion is so near, that Jesus so clearly and precisely explains two major premises of the Christian covenant. He prays that we will be one, as he and the Father are one – and you can’t get any closer than that. We are not to be one only with our immediate or even extended family. We are not to be one only with our nice neighbors or “our kind of people.” We are not to be one only with the saintly, the healthy, the smart, the sweet smelling, the un-addicted. We are to be one with all of God’s children – the good, the bad and the ugly, the near and the far. And that takes a whole lot more than bumper sticker compassion, as we speed past the wreckage so many are making of their lives.
Where to start? Start with you. Start with me. Each of us must get ourselves right with God every day. Long before there was Twitter, there was prayer. It’s faster than Tweets and has no character count limitations. It is express to the top and infinitely more reliable than Wikipedia. Constant contact with Jesus fills the day with endless opportunities to witness his love. In encouragement and assistance, in kindness and courtesy, in giving and sharing, we become one with Jesus. And as we draw closer to Christ, the spiritual gravity of grace draws those in the orbit of our lives along with us to God – the epicenter of all love.
The second concept is a mind bender. Jesus tells us that we: do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. We are all resident aliens, here on a “green card” to do the work of our Lord. And when the harvest is in or our contract is up, we are going home. We are in the world, but not of the world. It is an article of faith that we should have tattooed on our souls. It is Christ’s parting message before he leaves for the cross. By his death and Resurrection we are redeemed and, each in our turn, are welcomed home – to live eternally in the grace of God with all who have gone before and all who will follow. And until the time we are together in glory, we’re just visiting here. In Christ’s love, let’s make the most of it.
God love you!
Sheets, Millard, 1907-1989. Word of Life mural, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55058 [retrieved May 14, 2012].