May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in your sight Oh Lord my strength and my redeemer.
Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26
1 John 5:9-13
John 17: 6-19
“That they may be one.”
In the Gospel of John, we hear Jesus’ prayer:
The prayer that he prayed the night before he died.
Kind of an interesting reading to hear on this seventh (and final!) Sunday of Easter.
But then again: There’s a reason for that:
Because it brings us full circle.
On the night before he died,
Jesus prayed a prayer for his disciples:
A prayer for everyone who would believe in him:
A prayer for us:
A prayer for the world.
Jesus says, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me,
So that they may be one, as we are one.”
To be one.
To be one with all people.
To put aside our differences:
To be in loving community:
To end fighting:
To end war.
This is a BIG prayer.
An astonishing prayer.
A prayer that seems almost impossible.
We might be tempted to say, “Who are you kidding, Jesus?”
“It didn’t happen in your time:
What makes you think it could ever happen in ours?”
But Jesus told his followers that they should be one in this world:
in their culture and their time.
It goes along with Jesus always reminding the disciples, and all of us:
That the Kingdom of Heaven is here –
not something that will come in the next world.
But to be one right now. Right here.
Its an echo of Jesus’ teachings on eternity:
The past, the now, the future:
All of it: In its fullness.
That they all may be one.
It’s not just about “later.
And what’s cool about Jesus:
Is that he ALWAYS talks about these things in positive statements:
As his dream for the world:
Not as a “yeah right”
Not as something rote, and un thoughtful.
It’s as if he’s saying to God:
“This is my wish: This is my dream:
That those who believe would be one: just as you and I are one.”
He says it as if he expects it to happen.
He says it as if he thinks we understand what he’s talking about.
But Jesus knows what he’s talking about.
Whether WE know what Jesus is talking about is an entirely different thing.
And maybe that’s just the thing.
Maybe we just don’t know what “unity” means
When Churches throughout the centuries have battled and split off from one another repeatedly.
That’s not being one.
When the human obsession with being right consistently puts up roadblocks against Jesus’ prayer.
That’s not being one.
But how can we even understand the image that Jesus gives us:
About our own unity as the mirror of Jesus and the father being one?
That’s pretty hard to understand.
That’s pretty hard to fully know:
It’s one of those things:
Like the peace of God which passes ALL understanding.
Beyond our comprehension.
Beyond our understanding.
But that’s no free ticket to give up.
To let the seeming impossibility of unity and one-ness make us quit.
So we have to look for the oneness.
It is our call and our duty:
To seek it in God and in each other.
And Oneness with God means being at one with all of God’s gifts:
All Cultures, peoples, nations:
And every single bit of our own human existence.
The joys and the sorrows.
The fears and the strengths.
To tear apart one bit of our gift is to put a tear in the beauty of oneness with God:
And oneness with each other.
And here’s the important part:
Being the same, is not the basis of unity.
Just like Jesus and the Father are not “the same.”
Love is the basis of unity: and nothing else.
Just like we’ve been hearing the last few weeks:
About abiding, loving, about being only one branch on the ever-living vine.
Being the same: is not unity.
When St. Paul said that there was no more male or female,
Jew or Greek.
He didn’t mean that men and women would be morphed into some other form of human being:
Or that Jews and Greeks would become one new nationality.
He meant that each of us:
In our uniqueness would look with love on all the other creatures of God.
He meant that we would see beauty in the gifts that others have,
Instead of being jealous of another’s gifts:
Or thinking that our gifts are better than someone elses.
He meant that:
All of the gifts matter:
And all of them are necessary for us to all be one.
He meant that we should join together to build the Kingdom of God:
The Kingdom of God that IS among us.
This kind of love is hard.
Our human nature makes it hard.
Our culture makes it hard.
If we take Jesus’ words seriously, we’ll hear that the outpouring love that IS God:
Is there for all of us.
In all of its different ways:
And we’ll strive to let it guide our words and actions.
And not all of us will be called to do the same things:
We need it all:
We need everyone:
We need priests:
And we need lay readers.
We need activists:
And we need people to pray silently at home.
We need teachers,
And we need listeners.
We need the young,
And we need the old.
But here’s the other hard part:
We can do this:
We can become one:
Only if we are willing to be transformed.
Only if we are willing to be changed:
Only if we are willing to listen to God:
To let God’s love pour over us,
And relinquish some of our own control:
Some of our own sense of what’s “Right.”
And This is our heritage.
This is who we are.
Those who are constantly,
At any time, at any age:
Willing to be transformed.
Willing to receive new gifts,
Willing to try something new.
For the sake of being one in THIS Kingdom:
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