Daily Reflection – 5/25/2023
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.”(John 17:20-26)
In today’s gospel we overhear a portion of Jesus’ prayer to his Father. He prays for us. Three times he asks our Father that we would all become one as he and the Father are one. He prays above all for unity among his disciples as the most effective sign of witness.
It is said that, in the early Church, people marveled, “See those Christians, how they love each other.” In a world divided along so many lines, people were amazed to see Jews and Greeks, men and women, slaves and freemen, rich and poor sharing a common community life in love and forgiveness and mutual support.
Is that the witness that we are giving today? It does not appear that way. Instead, we live in a world full of divisions – male or female; rich or poor; gay or straight; Hispanic or Anglo; Christian or Muslim; conservative or liberal; educated or uneducated; young or old. I could go on and on listing the boundaries that we encounter. In truth, they have become oppositions.
We seem to overlook the fact that behind every boundary we establish there is a human being. Ultimately, boundaries and differences are not about issues. They are about real people, with names, lives, joys, sorrows, concerns, and needs just like us.
But God’s love knows no boundaries. God loves male and female, rich and poor, gay and straight, Hispanic and Anglo. God loves Christian and Muslim, conservative and liberal, educated and uneducated. God loves young and old, heaven and earth, divine and human. God loves sinner and saved, orthodox and heretic. All are loved fully, completely, and uniquely. His son welcomed all to His side just as His father did. Time and again, we are called to love, not to judge and to honor the image of God in each of us.
There are some who read this who even may be offended as they read this. But we can’t deny the universal love of our Father for each of His children.
God does not even draw boundaries between Jesus and us. God loves you the same as he loves Jesus. God loves your neighbor the same as he loves Jesus. If that is how God loves how can we do anything less and still call ourselves Christians?
Our churches make a careful effort to provide spaces, prayers and sacramentals to help us pray more deeply and to develop a relationship with God. For prayer is all about a relationship with God. It is not about the words we use or how frequently we use them. If prayer is a relationship with God then what about our lives when we say the prayers but live a life that judges, that criticizes, that delineates us from them?
We can’t live in holiness unless all of our life is holy. We can’t live in holiness unless we live the commandments of love.
Though Jesus is praying to the Father, you and I will in large part be the ones to answer Jesus’ prayer. Perhaps it is time we answer Jesus’ prayer and deal with one another in love.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord God, have mercy on your people and heal the divisions in the body of Christ. May all Christian people throughout the world attain the unity for which Jesus prayed on the eve of his sacrifice. Renew in us the power of the Spirit that we may be a sign of that unity and a means of its growth. “
The unity of Jesus and his Father is a unity of mind and heart, mutual love and trust, honor and respect. Because Jesus loved us first and united us in baptism we are called to live in a unity of love. Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his sacrifice shows the great love and trust he has in his beloved disciples. The Lord entrusts us with the same mission – to make him known and loved by all.