(Part 121)


May 21, 2015

Today’s gospel:  John 17:20-26

In his final prayer before his arrest and passion, Jesus prays for unity among his followers, both present and would-be. “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” (v.20-21a). Such unity prayed for is profound and divine, reflecting the very unity between God the Father and God the Son. As Jesus says, “as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us” (v.21b). What is one purpose for such unity? It is “that the world may believe that you sent me.” (v.21c). It is for the purpose of effective worldwide evangelization.

Unfortunately, Christendom continues to be in disunity.

  • The western (Catholic) and the eastern (Orthodox) churches.
  • The Catholic and the Protestant churches.
  • The Protestant churches among themselves (there are 40,000 Protestant denominations).
  • Many religious congregations through the centuries that have split and re-split.
  • The different lay Church organizations among themselves.
  • Lay Christian communities that have split.
  • Lay leaders in opposition to others.

While both sides in a conflict often have some fault, it is also often true that one side may continue not to want to be reconciled or be at peace with the other, even if the other side is willing or even goes out of its way to be reconciled.

  • The Orthodox Churches (not all) do not accept the primacy of the pope.
  • The Protestant churches continue to assault Catholic teaching such as on Mary.
  • Lay Church organizations continue to be self-referential and only serve in the Church to the extent that their own organizations are benefited.
  • A lay Catholic community continuing to assault another community and trying to prevent it from doing its work.
  • Lay leaders in a community not accepting the one vision for the work.

Such churches or communities or leaders fail to see the great harm being inflicted on the whole Church, and negatively affecting its witness. Where is the love? Where is the peace and unity? Where is Christ? Jesus already bestowed on us the Father’s glory, to enable us to truly become one. “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one” (v.22). Such is intended for holiness and Christian perfection, “I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one” (v.23a). They are to manifest perfect love in their unity. And again, for what purpose? So “that the world may know that you sent me” (v.23b).

Such churches and communities do not really know God and the love of God. They may be serving God and His people, but according to their own worldly ways, including disunity and strife and a lack of self-sacrificial love. Would that they experience true conversion, live the life and attitudes of a true Christian, and reflect the love of God to a darkened world. “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.” (v.26).

Is Christ truly in us? Then there should be reconciliation, forgiveness and unity.

*     *     *