( A commentary on John 17: 20-26)
“I pray not only for them, 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.” (John 17: 20-26)
Today, the Gospel continues the Great Prayer of Jesus Christ on the night before his crucifixion. It gives us profound revelations into the will of Jesus Christ.
His prayer for unity jumps out from his words. In fact, four times in six verses, he prays that we be one as he and the Father are one.
Yet, through two millennia, the church has been divided. The very institution – the Christian Church – has been divided because we, the body of Jesus Christ, are divided. Yet, we study the word, we assemble in our churches as followers of Christ, we pray for the grace of the sacraments, but we remain divided.
The message of Christ is clear and dramatic. Only if the disciples, and all of us, remain in God’s love, will we be able to see Jesus’ glory, the glory that he has with the Father.
Jesus Christ saw as one. He does not see us as isolated individuals. He recognizes us as persons, certainly, but as persons in community with one another. He does not see us as apart from each other. His vision is that we are one. If Jesus sees us that way, the implication here is that we should see ourselves the same way.
But we don’t. We use labels. We use labels within our Churches, we use labels to describe other Christians, we use labels as boundaries, to stake out the vanity of our positions.
How can any one of us dare describe as followers of Christ when we use labels and actions to divide? The polarization of society has never been greater. And that polarization has seeped into our lives, our families, our words, our actions.
I guess that is not a surprise. Since the days of Adam and Eve, the very spirit of evil has sought to divide as he did with them. The divisions that led in the next generation to Cain’s killing Abel and so many other consequences.,
The devil, is always at work seeking to separate. And we use our freedom to consent to these temptations. We give into pride, and envy, anger and greed, all of which clearly not only separate us from God but divide us from others. All of this totally contrary to the communion based on the loving communion among Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Blessed Trinity.
Since the world is polarized, we become accepting and comfortable with divisions. “I’m not going to talk to him because he hurt my sister.” “I don’t want that person around me because our views are not the same.” “I cannot socialize with that person because he/she does not accept my political perspective.” “That person is too liberal (or conservative) for me” “He doesn’t think like me . . . she doesn’t look the way she should “and on and on and on.
Every divisive word and action ruptures communion. But every genuine act of Christian love begins to repair it.
If this communion with God and with each other meant so much to the Lord that, on the night he was betrayed, he poured out his very soul praying for it to the Father, then each of us who loves him must make it our life’s mission to try to bring about that union of love.
We need to look within, search our heart, and pray for the grace to be loving, to find those actions that speak even louder than our words, to act in love to all as he loves us.
Prayer of The Day
“Heavenly Father, have mercy on all your people who have been redeemed by the precious blood of your Son who offered up his life for us on the cross. Pardon our sins and heal our divisions that we may grow in love, unity, and holiness together as your sons and daughters. Renew in us the power of the Holy Spirit that we may be a sign of that unity and a means of its growth. Increase in us a fervent love, respect, and care for all of our brothers and sisters who believe in Jesus Christ.”
The world will be convinced of Jesus’ presence and mission by the way we’re united with each other. The world will be convinced of God’s personal love for each of us by the way we love each other. Our union, our Christian communion brought about by the Holy Spirit, is the most important element of the new evangelization.