REFLECTION FOR TODAY
May 20, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” Jn. 17:20-21
Jesus knows how much the world need unity. He saw how divided the human person would be hence He made this prayer as contained in our gospel reference today. This was the last part of the High-Priestly prayer of Jesus. The last will and testament which Jesus left for us is that we all be one.
It is impossible to express in more energetic terms the union that Jesus asks of us Christians. He willed that we all be one as the Father and the Son are one. Jesus came precisely to gather into one the scatter children of God.
We must admit that we are far from the ideal Jesus willed for us. There is division among us as Christians, Catholic, Parishioners and even in families. The unity Jesus willed for us Christians, presupposes on our part many acts of renunciation of our cherished plans, ideas, pride, and selfishness. Jesus wills that the love of God, the love with which the Father has loved the Son, the infinite love of God be shared all humanity.
It’s interesting that Jesus would look up to Heaven when He prayed. Of course, Heaven is not physically in the sky, because Heaven is a spiritual reality. The Father is not located in some place in the sky but is omnipresent, meaning, present all places and all times. And yet, Jesus raises His eyes upward when He prays to the Father. There is a great lesson in this.
Jesus’ act of “Lifting his eyes to heaven” was not done because He thought He might see the Father in the sky; rather, it was done out of respect and love and as a way of acknowledging the dignity of the Father. This should teach us about our own bodily disposition and the message we communicate to others, especially to God in prayer.
When you pray, what do you do? Though you can pray at any time and while in any disposition, it is an excellent practice to speak to God not only by your words but also by the disposition you take. Kneeling, raising hands in prayer, falling prostrate before your Lord, sitting upright with attentiveness, etc., are all ways in which you communicate to God your love.
Reflect, today, upon this image of Jesus praying for unity. Gaze at how attentive He would have been as He lifted His sacred eyes upward as a physical gesture honoring the glorious, all-powerful Father in Heaven. Try to imagine Jesus’ devotion, intensity, respect and burning love. Imitate this holy gesture of prayer and attentiveness to the Father and remind yourself of the importance of expressing your love in bodily form.
Father in Heaven, I do join Your Son, Jesus, in lifting my eyes, my heart and my whole life to You in honor, love and respect. May I always be attentive to You and always show You the devotion due Your greatness. May I live in unity with all people. My Jesus, thank You for Your love of the Father in Heaven. Give me the grace I need to imitate You and Your perfect love in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.