...that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
As we approach Pentecost and the end of the Easter cycle I find myself greedily reflecting on these passages from Saint John's Gospel. I hear witnesses of the past assure me, "There is still more here. You haven't got it yet."
But insight bears only a passing resemblance to virtue. Just because I take delight in this Gospel doesn't mean it's changed my attitudes toward the friars with whom I live, the VA staff with whom I work, the Veterans and their families, myself or God. If anything, it may delude me into thinking, "I get it!" when I don't.
I hope these reflections shape my imagination and teach me what to expect; so that when I am disappointed I will realize this grace-filled opportunity is not what I, in my sinfulness, hoped for or expected.
I hear Jesus pray, "...that all may be one." He reminds me that I cannot cling to a competitive attitude toward others. I am not the best, the strongest, or the most intelligent. I am not the most favored. Why do I think that I am? Why would anyone cling to such nonsense?
"...that all may be one" reminds me we're all in this together. If Jesus would not save himself from the mockery and taunts of his enemies, why would I separate myself from those who are mocked and taunted? If he stands with them, obviously I should too; whether "they" are African-Americans, Muslims, gays, aliens or criminals. Which pariah people has never found the Lord standing with them in their trials? Even if they didn't notice his presence, we saw it -- and were ashamed of our reluctance to stand by them.
"...I have given them the glory you gave me..."
There's a fascinating passage in the Gospel of Saint Matthew. "Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, walked up on the mountain, and sat down there." (Matthew 15:29) As an amateur writer I know that the Evangelist doesn't waste words. Why does he say, "Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee?" Why have millions of gallons of ink in billions of printed bibles in every language on Earth replicated those words?
Saint Matthew would have us remember that the Lord passed by in front of Moses, but Moses was not allowed to see God's face. "for no one can see me and live." However, Moses was permitted see God's "back;" that is, the train of his glory as He passed by. When Jesus passes by the Sea of Galilee we see the train of his glory coming behind him, which are "the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others." And then, "he cured them." The train of Jesus' glory is broken, humiliated, dispirited, suffering humanity. He wears our crown of thorns.
Our oneness in the Lord, for which he prays, begins first, as he gathers us; and secondly, as each of us sheds all pretensions of power, success, comfort and assurance; thirdly, as we join that wretched, pathetic mass of humanity; and finally as he gives us the glory the Father gave him -- the glory of the cross.
And the promise of Resurrection -- so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me....
We think of heaven as a happy place. We might do better to think of it as Communion, with all the mystery of that word.