— The Lord’s Day —

Easter, the Seventh Sunday

Pondering the
Father’s victorious Word:

εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, I pray not only for them,
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.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
(ἵνα ὦσιν τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἕν, hina osin teteleiomenoi eis en)
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them.”

θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

‘The Week of Easter’ – the 7 Sundays of Easter – always draw to a close on the Seventh Easter with an excerpt from some part of Jesus’ ‘High Priestly Prayer.’ Each of these Easter Sundays has marked a particular aspect of the new creation of Jesus’ resurrection and the transforming power that Jesus, Who is Resurrection and Life, has unleashed in the universe to make all things new in His Father. As God the Creator rested on the seventh day of Creation, the One Who makes all things new rests on Easter 7 by defining the action of that rest: oneness with His Father. But as far as Jesus is concerned, nothing is ever about Him. As the One Who came to serve and not be served, His life is about drawing us as His disciples into the marvelous life He shares with His Father in the love of the Holy Spirit.

While one may get ‘caught up’ in the “I in You, You in me” sayings throughout the prayer, it is vital to recall what is looming on the horizon: the Cross. At the conclusion of the prayer, Jesus will go out across the Kidron valley to a garden and be arrested. He knew what was coming and yet entered deeply into prayer with His Father for us!

Of the petitions woven through the entire Prayer, similar to that of the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6, Jesus prays, “that they may be brought to perfection as one.” The Greek word τετελειωμένοι (teteleiomenoi) is translated here as “perfection.” The word is well worth examining this Sunday as ‘ideas of perfection’ often get us humans into quite a bit of trouble in the quest for the ever elusive ‘perfection.’ τελειόω (teleioo) is a Greek verb that means ‘to complete in a broad manner.’ In early Greek, τελειόω (teleioo) conveyed a sense ‘to accomplish’ or ‘to finish.’ This use of τελειόω (teleioo) often had a particular task in view that was clearly identified and one engaged in a series of steps or actions to bring a desired ‘end’ to the task. Gradually another ‘sense’ of τελειόω (teleioo) evolved epsecially when applied to human life, notably growth in the ‘life of virtue.’ “Accomplish” and “finish,” associated more often with specific tasks, became ‘being complete for living’ when dealing with aspects of human life.

So how is τελειόω (teleioo) to be understood in the context of Jesus’ prayer in John 17? Minimally, “perfection” is NOT attaining or obtaining something or some level and calling it quits. Minimally, “perfection” is NOT establishing a particular goal, setting a series of outcomes and then objectively assessing it through a properly devised rubric and congratulating oneself on meeting the goal or goals. Minimally, Christian “perfection” IS being given all necessary gifts to live radically the oneness of the Father. This flows directly from what Jesus did and said: “I have given them the glory you gave Me.” The question here is not ‘what’ is glory; rather ‘Who’? Saint Gregory of Nyssa’s words from his Homilies on the Song of Songs are worth pondering:

“In giving “all power” to his disciples by his blessing, in his prayer here to the Father he grants many other favors to those who are holy. And he adds this, which is the crown of all blessings, that in all the diversity of life’s decisions they should never be divided greatly in their choice of the good. And so he prays that all “may be one,” united in a single good so that linked “in the bond of peace,” as the apostle says, through “the unity of the [Holy] Spirit,” all might become “one body and one spirit,” through the “one hope” to which they have all been called. But it would be better here if we would quote the actual words of the Gospel. “That they all may be one,” he says, “as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us.” Now the bond of this unity is glory, and no one who would consider seriously the Lord’s words would deny that this glory is the Holy Spirit. For he says, “The glory that you have given me, I have given to them.” He gave his disciples this glory when he said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And he himself received this glory when he put on human nature, though he had indeed always possessed it since before the beginning of the world. And now that his human nature has been glorified by the Spirit, this participation in the glory of the Spirit is communicated to all who are united with him, beginning with his disciples.”

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