After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. “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.
In the days before the lockdown, whenever I used to travel to my meetings, or for other work, I would look at the thousands and thousands of people all around me and feel this immense sadness in my heart that most of them didn’t didn’t know God or his tremendous love for them. And then I’d think of the other people around the world who did know God at one time, but rejected him and his love, and I would feel sadder.
And I felt all this sadness again when I read today’s passage, because Jesus came down to earth with only one purpose. To make God and his love known. There were those, of course, who received the truth and accepted it gladly, but there were so many who didn’t. In fact, as you know, not only did they reject him, they put him to death Can you imagine?
Have you heard of a word called “empathy”? It is the ability to sense how other people feel, to imagine what they might be thinking or going through. We sometimes empathize with other people, but have we ever empathized with God — thinking about how he must looking down at his creation who acts like he doesn’t exist. “The world came into being because of him; yet the world doesn’t know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.” That was Scripture, by the way: John 1:10-11.
I want us to think about that today, because we tend to be such self-absorbed people, concerned only about ourselves. We want God to pay attention to us all the time, while we never pay attention to him. We just take him for granted. And while we are empathizing, let us also consider how our Lord feels to see us so divided, so disunited. And I am not talking about people of the world; I am talking about those who say they follow Christ.
Now if you are wondering why I am obsessing about unity it is because it mattered so much to Jesus. One of his final prayers to his Father was for unity. “Holy Father,” he said, “protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” You know I keep talking about God doing something new. I believe this “something new” will happen if the things that mattered to Jesus starts mattering to us.
Let us start looking at the world through the eyes of Jesus.