Friends, today’s Gospel is the high-priestly prayer of Jesus the night of the Last Supper. Here are the first words of the Lord: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.” God is, in his innermost nature, a community of love, and God’s purpose vis-à-vis the world is to draw it into his unity. God is a great gathering force.
Jesus continues: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One.” Precisely because the world is so opposed to the way of Jesus, it is always tempting for Christians more or less to flee, to seek to live in private enclaves where we can cultivate the life of discipleship.
It is true that, at times, the Church must hunker down in order to preserve its life against a hostile culture. But the ultimate purpose of the Church is never hunkering down or escaping. It is the transformation of the culture. The Church always exists for the world. If God simply took us out of the world, he would be removing the leaven necessary for the rising of the dough.