Continuing the beautiful priestly prayer found in Chapter 17 of the Gospel of St. John, we come to this petition: “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (John 17:17-19). Our Lord is consecrating His Apostles in the truth with all that this implies.
To consecrate means to set aside for service to God. Christ is clearly speaking as a priest. In consecrating His Apostles He is not only setting them aside to be sent into the world on mission (cf. John 17:18) but also He is taking them into Himself, assimilating them into Himself, as it were, consecrating Himself for them (cf. John 17:19).
Our Lord is incorporating the Apostles into Himself, for that is what assimilation means. He prays to His Father, “[T]hey do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world” (John 17:14). “Consecrate them in truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Who is the word, but the Word made flesh (cf. John 1:14), Jesus Christ, our Lord! Who is the truth, but the Son, “full of grace and truth” (cf. John 1:14)! What the Father has done for the Son, the Son now asks to be done for the Apostles (John 17:11b). Truly the prayer is extraordinary in its scope of meaning: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are” (John 17:11b). The consecration of the Apostles will be part of His own consecration: “I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (John 17:19). There is something beautiful happening here, something new, priestly and sacramental. Pause to reflect on this prayer and its meaning. Absorb its significance.