Choosing the better part

Choosing the better part

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jesus' Burning Passion for Our Presence

If someone wanted to know our deepest longings and desires, then they would retrieve and study a transcript of our prayers. In particular, they would need a copy of our private prayers, since that is where we all freely and openly pour out our hearts to God. And by looking at what we seek and cry our for to God, they would learn what is truly near and dear to our hearts.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 17, the night before his death, Jesus opens the window of his heart in this prayer to his Father.  And what do we see? We see an ardent yearning for our presence as he prays: “Father, I desire that they also whom you gave me may be with me where I am.”
Although the Greek word is sometimes translated “will,” the words “desire” or “want” convey the meaning better. For the Greek word does not just express determination, but also pleasure, delight and aspiration.  Therefore, Jesus is articulating his heart’s desire to his Father. This is what he wants: he longs for you and me to be where he is. 

Jesus goes on express the reason that he wants us to be with him: “that they may behold my glory which you have given me; for you loved me before the foundation of the world.”  Our Lord's desire for us to share in this glory is reflected in David’s hope as he wrote: “As for me, I will see your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness” (Ps. 17:15). “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4).

It is true that the world has not known the Father, and so it has no right to be in his presence. But Jesus is not praying for the world (John 17:9); he is praying for his disciples and for all that the Father has given him.  “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you did send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”  And to them he has made the Father known, and he will continue by His Spirit to do so. In other words, he will not just bring them to faith; he will also fully sanctify them.

The result, then, of Christ’s work is twofold - the love the Father has for Jesus will be in us; and Christ will be in us (John 17:26).  Jesus will make sure that we know the Father so well that we will love one another with the same love that the Father has for Jesus. In addition, the heart of the covenant will be realized in us, for God in Christ will dwell among us and be our God. The law of this covenant is written on our hearts and through His Spirit and the gift of Sacraments we are given the grace to keep the commandments.  One with Christ, it becomes our very nature to do so.  He will make us holy as he is holy.  And this he will surely do because of his desire that we be where he is!

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