During the of days of Paschaltide, the church offers us a rich fare of readings from the Gospel of Saint John during the weekday Mass. Whenever I proclaim the Gospel of John I am always struck by the depth of his thought expressed so beautifully with such brevity. Like an eagle, the symbol of the Evangelist John, he soars to the heights of such profound and beautiful theological articulations of the truth. In this text we hear a very striking formulation, “because you loved me before the foundation of the world…” (see John 17:20-26). God is eternally begetting his only begotten Son, the Eternal word. That is hard to wrap your mind around; that is, before time came to be, before the foundation of the world, God was loving his Son, so there never was a time when the Son was not; there never was a time when the Father was not begetting his Son, and loving him with that eternal love.
The love of which Jesus speaks is an eternal love, a divine love, and he says “I have made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you love me may be in them and I am in them.” That is another striking Christian formulation. The love with which the Father loves the Son is eternal love, which is eternity, eternal life… “So that eternal life may be in them and I and them.”
You cannot get any more bold in the proclamation of the fruit of our redemption in Jesus Christ. Sanctifying grace is no fiction or merely a pious thought. Sanctifying grace is a sharing in the very eternal love of God himself and it makes holy those who possess that gift, by giving us a participation in divine life. That to me is what it so uniquely stunning about the Christian proclamation.
The text is very lovely indeed as it continues to lift us up and draw us into the heart of the Gospel of Grace, and that is what is so stunning about John. He is always circling around, to bring us a point where he can lift us up to a deeper apprehension of the truth of Jesus. After all the Holy Spirit has been given to lead us into all truth and Saint John is leading us through the Holy Spirit to a more keen insight into our redemption in Christ.
He leads us to ponder that the eternal love with which God loves his only begotten Son is the very love with which he loves us, and that is the love that is placed within us. That is indeed the fruit of our redemption in Jesus Christ. “I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”