Recognising Our Unity

Thursday of Week 7 in Eastertide

Acts. 22:30, 23:6-11 & Jn. 17:20-26

The event described in today's first reading takes place in Jerusalem when the Sanhedrin put Paul on trial. He acts very cleverly to take the pressure off himself by professing his belief in the resurrection of the dead and creates a conflict between the Pharisees who believe in this and the Sadducees who do not.

One of the many things closest to Jesus' heart was that we should all be one. In His school of thought people could not be close to God and at the same time separated from each other. This conclusion found expression in His high priestly prayer. The Church that Jesus founded is now divided into countless denominations and trying to unify them is like putting Humpty Dumpty together again!

When Jesus said, "I pray that they may be one as we are one," what did He mean? Some think that Jesus was praying that His followers might remain one organisation. It is not difficult to believe that He would have preferred that. But is this is really what Jesus really prayed for because, of course, two people can belong to the same organisation and still hold each other in utter contempt. Obviously Jesus had something more in mind than external structure when He prayed for the unity of His followers.

The analogy that He used to illustrate what He wanted was His oneness with God His Father. That was a spiritual unity. They were of one heart and one mind. That is what Jesus wanted for His disciples. But human nature being what it is, we will never accomplish that completely. Jesus was a realist. He did not expect that. But I am sure He expects better than we are doing now!

It could be that Jesus was praying for us to recognise the unity we already have. What should unify us is the fact that we have one Father in Heaven and that Jesus is our Brother. Notice Jesus did not offer us some plan to produce unity. He simply reminded us of the unity we already have. This was the main thrust of Our Lord's prayer for us - not that we would get busy to achieve unity but that we would simply recognise what we already have, and then try to build on it.

May Jesus's prayer for unity be ours: “Father, may they be one as You are in Me and I in You."