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"Lectio divina is an authentic source of Christian spirituality recommended by our Rule. We therefore practice it every day, so that we may develop a deep and genuine love for it, and so that we may grow in the surpassing knowledge of Christ. In this way we shall put into practice the Apostle Paul’s commandment, which is mentioned in our Rule: “Let the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, live abundantly in your mouth and in your hearts; and whatever you must do, do it in the name of the Lord.”

 Carmelite Constitutions (No. 82)

Lectio Divina: John 17:20-26

Lectio Divina

1) Opening prayer

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
and Father of all people,
we believe in You
and we know that You loved Jesus
with a deep and trusting, lasting love.
Let Your Holy Spirit pour out this love
into the hearts of all those
who believe in Jesus, our Savior and shepherd.
Let this love unite us in one common bond
of understanding and respect for one another
and let that love lead us
to live for one another and to serve one another
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - John 17:20-26

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. 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, 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."

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel gives us the third and last part of the Priestly Prayer, in which Jesus looks toward the future and manifests His great desire for unity among us, His disciples, and that all may remain in the love which unifies, because without love and without unity we do not deserve credibility.

• John 17:20-23: So that the world may believe it was You who sent Me. Jesus expands the horizon and prays to the Father: “I pray not only for these but also for those who through their teaching will come to believe in Me. May they all be one, just as, Father, You are in Me and I am in You, so that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me.”  Behold, here emerges Jesus’ great concern for unity which should exist in the communities. Unity does not mean uniformity, but rather to remain in love, in spite of tensions and conflicts. A love which unifies to the point of creating, among all, a profound unity like the unity which exists between Jesus and the Father. The unity in love revealed in the Trinity is the model for the communities. For this, through love among people, the communities reveal to the world the most profound message of Jesus. People said of the first Christians, “See how they love one another!” The present day division among the three religions which came from Abraham is really tragic: the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims. And even more tragic is the division among us Christians who say that we believe in Jesus. If we are divided we do not deserve credibility. Ecumenism is at the center of the last prayer of Jesus to the Father. It is His testament. To be a Christian and not be ecumenical is a contradiction. It means to contradict the last Will of Jesus.

• John 17:24-26: “So that the love with which You loved Me may be in them.” Jesus does not want to remain alone. He says, “Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am so that they may always see My glory, which You have given Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” Jesus is happy when we are all together with Him. He wants His disciples to have the same experience of the Father which He had. He wants us to know the Father and that He knows us. In the Bible, the word to know is not limited to a rational theoretical knowledge, but presupposes the experience of the presence of God living in love with the people of the community.

• That they may be one as We are one. (Unity and Trinity in the Gospel of John) The Gospel of John helps us to understand the mystery of the Trinity, the communion among the three Divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Of the four Gospels, John is the one which puts more stress on the profound unity among the Father, the Son and the Spirit. From the text of John (Jn 17:6-8) we see that the mission of the Son is the supreme manifestation of the love of the Father. And this unity between the Father and the Son makes Jesus exclaim, “The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:30). Between the Son and the Father there is such an intense unity that one who sees the face of one also sees the face of the other. And fulfilling this mission of unity received from the Father, Jesus reveals the Spirit. The spirit of Truth comes from the Father (Jn 15:26). At the bidding of the Son (Jn 14:16), the Father sends the Spirit to each one of us in such a way that He will remain with us, encouraging us and giving us strength. The Spirit also comes to us from the Son (Jn 16:7-8). Thus, the Spirit of Truth, who journeys with us, is the communication of the profound unity which exists between the Father and the Son (Jn 15:26-27). The Spirit cannot communicate a truth which is different from the truth of the Son. Everything which is in relationship with the mystery of the Son, the Spirit makes known to us (Jn 16:13-14). This experience of unity in God was very strong in the communities of the Beloved Disciple. The love which unites the Divine Persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - allows us to experience God through union with the people in a community of love. This was also the experience of the community, where love should be the sign of God’s presence in the midst of the community (Jn 13:34-35). This love builds unity in the community (Jn 17:21). They looked at the unity in God in order to understand the unity among themselves.

4) For Personal Consideration

• Bishop Don Pedro Casaldáliga said, “The Trinity is truly the best community.” In the community of which you are a part, can you see any human sign of the Divine Trinity?
• Ecumenism: Am I interested in ecumenism? How do I approach it with others?
• Do I know the doctrine and beliefs of the Church well enough to enter into ecumenical discussion with others without misleading myself or others?
• What limits do I put on ecumenical activity in my life? Should there be limits?

5) Concluding Prayer

Lord, You will teach me the path of life,
unbounded joy in Your presence,
at Your right hand delight for ever. (Ps 16:11)

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As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."