The conclusion of Jesus’ Last Supper discourse is one option for a funeral Gospel reading. I don’t find it to be a frequent choice, which is unfortunate. Maybe the Johannine style is offputting. Without the reference of the preceding twenty-three verses, it seems like a random sentiment. John 17 has been the subject of my personal Lectio the past few days, so I felt it was a good time to offer a few reflections on the passage.
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
“Father, my disciples 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.
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.”
The comforting aspect is here: Jesus desires unity, closeness, and a love with his disciples reflective of the love between the Father and the Son. While the human experience beyond death may be a near-total mystery, believers can and do take comfort in the notion that God is with us in these times, and no matter what unknowns present themselves, we will have a loving and protective guardian.
Coming as it does before the Johannine Passion account, this passage also represents a Last Will of Jesus. He acknowledges the gift of a believer. He embraces the qualities of unity and love. He speaks of love as a deep and intimate connection and commitment.
The Paschal Mystery is evident: Christ’s disciples will also be drawn up into the glory of the resurrection. Why? Because of this intimacy initiated and desired by the Lord. Christ indwells in his disciples. A disciple has nothing about which to worry. God’s perspective is eternal (from the foundation of the world) and stretches to the end of time.
This reading makes a good pairing with 1 John 3:1-2, a New Testament choice.
It’s not a common choice, John 17:24-26, but it probably should be.