Jesus does not ask the Father to remove us from life itself ...
Today’s readings are here.
The words in today’s Gospel are part of the heartfelt prayer that John the Evangelist puts into Jesus’ mouth at the hour of his passion. It would be difficult to comment on the intensity of all the expressions he uses. I would like to pause to reflect on just one part:
I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Usually we have a very protective idea of love. For most of us, loving means removing the beloved from danger, from trial, from toil. To do so, however, is to deprive them of life itself. In this sense Jesus does not ask the Father to remove us from the most concrete reality, from the world. He only asks that each of us be guarded from the influence of the evil one, or rather that it never have the last word over us.
Letting someone you love remain in the midst of a struggle means making an act of trust in them. It’s a bit like saying, “You are capable of facing this test. You can do it!” Conversely, pulling them out of a trial means implicitly saying, “You are incapable of dealing with it, that’s why I have to save you.” But undergoing a trial and being able to overcome it requires that we truly experience it. In this sense, “being sanctified in the truth” means living in the truth: acting in accord with the truth regarding oneself, regarding life, regarding situations, regarding different circumstances. The Word of God is the most effective means through which each of us can turn on the light and act in accord with the truth.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese of Italy and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
Aleteia is proud to offer this commentary on the readings for daily Mass, in collaboration with Fr. Epicoco.