May 24, 2012 - Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Acts 22.30; 23.6-11
Psalm 16:1-2a+5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
John 17.20-26

We have been contemplating in the Gospel the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus. This prayer is confusing. On the one hand, Jesus uses the very simplest of words, yet, on the other hand, it is nearly impossible to understand what he is saying. On the one hand, Jesus is speaking to God the Father. On the other hand, this prayer was heard by St. John who wrote it down so that we can still read it today. On the one hand, Jesus is asking the Father to accomplish something in us. On the other hand, in this conversation between the Father and the Son, the will of God for us is being revealed in a most singular way, and what is a commandment but the will of God?

Let us consider one part of one sentence today: “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.” If a theologian wants to say anything of real importance they usually begin making up ten-letter words, but there is no word in that sentence that a three-year-old would not know. Nevertheless, the meaning here is deeper than anything that any philosopher or theologian ever said.

Jesus prays that “they may all be one.” Who are they? He said that “they” includes his disciples and anyone who comes to believe in him through the preaching of his disciples. This is how all Christians came to believe; we are all unified because we all heard the Gospel from Jesus, either directly or through others. So already Jesus has given us the basis of the unity that he is praying for. What do we have that we have not been given? If we were given the faith, how could anyone act as if they owned the faith as their personal possession?

Jesus clarifies what it means to be one: “you, Father, are in me, and I am in you.” The unity of Christians should be like the unity of the Trinity. What is the unity of the Trinity? Love. The unity of the Trinity is a unity of essence, and God is love. The Father is in the Son because the Son loves the Father. The Son is in the Father because the Father loves the Son. We Christians will be unified in each other when we love each other without reservation.