Fourth Sunday of Easter

Lectionary: 51

My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

In his book, Man is not Alone, when he might have objected to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and insisted upon the Jewish understanding of monotheism, Rabbi Heschel cited Deuteronomy 6:4, which reads, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!"

He goes on to say that One is far more than a number. 

  • It means uniqueHis essence is different from all I am able to know or say. He is not only superior, he is incomparable. There is no equivalent of the divine. He is not "an aspect of nature," not an additional reality, existing alone with this world, but a reality that is over and above the universe. 
  • One means onlyGod is one mean He alone is real. One means exclusively, no one else, no one besides, alone, only.... (Significantly, the etymology of the English word "only" is one-ly.) 
  • God is one; He alone is real. all the nations are as nothing before him; they are accounted by him as things of naught and vanity. (Is 40:17) 
  • One means the same. 
  • One denotes inner unity. His law is mercy; his mercy is law. He is a being who is both beyond and here, both in nature and in history, both love and power, near and far, known and unknown, Father and Eternal.

(I can't cite the passage but I recall then-Cardinal Ratzinger also teaching that words like three and one hardly begin to reveal the mystery of God. They are at best human inventions which help us to speak to one another despite the limitations of our words. These great theologians of the 20th century shared deep understanding of faith.)

When we hear Jesus say, The Father and I are one, even as he insists that no one can take his sheep from his hands or from his Father's hands, we apprehend (if not comprehend) the enormity of God's love for us.

Just as The Father and The Son are one in love, so is their uncompromising, unchanging, unalterable love for you and me. Jesus' disciples are the gift of the Father to the Son, and the gift of the Son to the Father. Neither will surrender ownership of us because we belong to both, and their love for one another meets in us. As a wife/mother encounters her husband in their children -- in the genetic reminders of their eyes, their hair, their stature and manner -- so do the Father and the Son see one another in the Church.

If someone beloved gives you a valuable gift you treasure it not only for its particular worth but for the one who gave it to you. It belongs to both of you and binds you together.

We bring that realization to the Mass, the "communion" which we share with one another, and God with us, and God with God.

Rabbi Heschel finished his chapter entitled "One God" with these words:
"One day" really means the day which God desired to be one with man. "From the beginning of creation the Holy One, blessed be he, longed to enter into partnership with the terrestrial world." The unity of God is a concern for the unity of the world.
When we say, "The Lord is my shepherd" we promise one another that God's day will come when there will be one flock and one shepherd and all our divisions will be dismissed.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.