Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21; John 17:20-26
“The significance which is in unity is an eternal wonder.” – Rabindranath Tagore
The United States in its Pledge of Allegiance claims that it is “one Nation under God, indivisible.” Is it too bold to say that the Republic cannot be divided, always united? If the reality of unity is not always there, at least the pledge is a secular prayer to the political gods expressing what we strive for. But the Pledge of Allegiance is nowhere near as audacious as the prayer of Jesus in today’s Gospel. Jesus also prays for unity; but this is no mere unity of some sort of interdependence or polite coexistence. The unity that we are to have with each other we are also to have with Jesus and the Father. This is more metaphysical than simple harmony. We are to all be one together in the same way that Jesus and the Father are one (John 17:21-23). This means that we are not simply one “under God” as expressed in the Pledge. We are to be intertwined with God. We all certainly have our own individuality, just as Jesus and the Father have their own personhood. Yet we learn from the doctrine of the Trinity that in some way the Father and the Son (and the Spirit) are, in some eternal wonder, somehow indistinguishable. We use these words “someway” and “somehow” because we really don’t understand the way or how. Yet the message is that we are to be one with each other and with God in a way that makes us indistinguishable, while still being our unique selves. This gives us a share in divinity as expressed in the Ancient Christian prayer: “May we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” This prayer is still used in Anglican and Roman Catholic worship among other churches. In other words, we continue to pray for the same thing Jesus prays for in this Gospel. There are ethical consequences to all this. We cannot do harm to another without doing harm to ourselves. We cannot do good to others without doing good to ourselves. We cannot do harm or good to others without affecting God.
In John 17:23 Jesus prays that we be “completely” or “perfectly” one. The Greek word used here carries the sense of bringing to fulfillment. This means that when we have this unity “we” are complete, completely who we are meant to be. It is not so much that the unity is now perfect. It is more that we are now complete, fully who we truly are meant to be.
Wonder of wonders.
One-der of one-ders assured.