Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Lectionary: 300

“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...

Most of us, I suppose, have heard and are familiar with the spiritual, “Were you there?” It’s affective pace, simple melody and haunting verses collude to send this song deep into our collective memory.

Were you there?

Yes, I was. Perhaps I was not born yet but that’s beside the point. We were there and I have been blessed and privileged to be baptized into this communion. The word you, in English, is both singular and plural. Yes, we were there; yes, I was there.

In today’s gospel we hear Jesus pray “also for those who will believe in me through their word.” We have been blended, kneaded and molded into the one communion and, like particles of ground wheat in a lump of dough, it doesn’t matter how long or how recently we came into the Church.

“… that they may be one…” Communion is not our destiny because that word implies it must automatically and inevitably happen. Communion is certainly God’s will for us and as we pray in God’s spirit we set aside our differences and wait with hope for the fulfillment of God's will. It is a certain as the blossom after the spring rain.

My differences are just not that important. The greatest scandal of our time – and there are many – is that the Body of Christ is divided by opinions. How can my opinions be so important as to separate me from my brothers and sisters in Christ?  

Race, ethnicity, culture: these differences are natural. They come with our birth in certain times and places. They form that diversity which makes the communion so beautiful. The Christian who travels the world with an open heart meets astonishing varieties of religious expression even in the Catholic Church, not to mention among the Orthodox and Protestant churches. Seen as honest expressions of love and devotion, they can only enrich one’s appreciation for the Splendor of Faith. I might be mystified by some expressions which seem so different from my upbringing and culture, but I should never be repelled.

Differences of opinion about religious doctrine also open us to the wonder of diversity if they are treated and greeted with reverence, and without suspicion. They should also expose our narrow-mindedness, the “assumptions” that make an ass-of-U-&-me.

Jesus’ prayer, if it’s not our destiny, is an overwhelming invitation. It is a blessing as charming as candy to a baby, as fascinating as lasers to cats. Setting aside our fears we advance toward the shining light of communion that all may be one.

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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.