In what I think is the most stark passage in John’s gospel (17:20-26), today we read what is clearly a pleading of Jesus to God. He’s asking that unity may be manifest on earth. It’s a very personal passage in which Jesus talks about his relationship with God and his desire for his followers and – by extension – the entire world to know the love that exists in God and for us all. The most powerful line for me today is what we language teachers call “direct address.” (There’s no doubt about the ask or to whom the request is made.) He says: Father, they are your gift to me.
Think about that for a minute. Pretend you are listening in on the conversation and you hear Jesus saying, “Father, they are your gift to me.” He’s talking about us – not only the holy ones among us, not the intellectuals or the gifted artists, but all of us. We are the gifts God has given to Christ who has walked the same path that we have. His 33-year sojourn on earth was not virtual or imaginal; he actually lived a totally human life. Now he’s asking for all of us to accept being God’s gift to him. I’m fairly certain that God was willing to give Christ what he asked for. The question is whether or not we are willing to acquiesce to what is required of us in becoming a gift of God to the world.
We just have to agree…to say yes.