The Prayer of Jesus
The book Moody’s Anecdotes (p. 53) says that there are two ways of being united: one is by being frozen together and the other is by being melted together. What Christians need is to be united in brotherly love and then they may expect to have power.
Today’s gospel reading presents the conclusion of Jesus’ High-Priestly Prayer. The content of His prayer is for the unity of all Christians. Especially that nowadays, we often see breakdowns of communication in families, enmity among members of the same faith community, dissention in civil society and hostility between nations. He prays also for the unity of the members of His body the pilgrim church that we will be one as He and His Father is one. He says: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you; that they also may be in us,” (v. 21). As His disciples, we must also work for Christian unity which today we call as ecumenism. The Second Vatican Council was so concerned about this ecumenical movement that it made a special document called, Decree on Ecumenism (1964). The document says: “There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart. For it is from newness of attitudes (Eph 4:23) and from self-denial and unstinted love that yearnings for unity take their rise and grow toward maturity. We should therefore pray to the divine Spirit for the grace to be genuinely self-denying, humble, gentle in the service of others, and to have an attitude of brotherly generosity toward them,” (n. 7).
Besides prayer and holiness of heart, the Council also urges us to study everything we can about our separated brethren especially their doctrines, history, liturgy, psychology, cultural background, etc. and also to meet and discuss with them if we are sufficiently competent. This prayer of Jesus for the unity of all Christians continued to be the great concern of the late Pope John Paul II. This movement for Christian unity must be based on sincere dialogue and respect for one another. It seeks to emphasize our common heritage with other Christian communities, and to honestly thresh out differences in fidelity to the truth of the Gospel. Let us all pray for the continued success of these efforts.
And concretely, Fr. Domie Guzman (Sabbath, May 8, 2008) said that this oneness will become the root of “perfection” (v. 23) because of:
- Authentic witnessing. More than the words and wonderworks that they will use at the service of the gospel, the very life and person of the disciples will be their testimony. They will have to be the sign of the message that they bring: that God is One and one in the works of salvation.
- Strength. That in spite of cruel persecutions in the hands of the Roman empire for the first 100 years of Christian witnessing, Christ followers carried one another and encouraged each other to fidelity with their psalms, hymns, exhortations and examples of heroic faith.
- Growth and building up. Fr. Guzman said that unity in thought, heart and action brings peace and progress in every endeavour.