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Reflection. Week of Prayer for Christian Únity. 18-25 Jan.
Reading John 17: 20-26.
This passage is foundational for the search for Christian Unity. It will be the lead reading for countless sermons across the world this week. Its original context was, of course, Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, as he recognised that ‘the hour had come’ for him to be glorified as he was lifted up on the cross.
We are all familiar with the words ‘that they may all be one’. But have we thought as carefully about the implications of the immediately following words ‘as yoú, Father are in me and I also am in you, may they also be one in us’?
What Jesus is praying for is that all his followers might enjoy the same depth of relationship with each other as He and the Father enjoy, a relationship of extraordinary depth of closeness, as shown in his own statement, ‘my meat and drink is to do the will of Him who sent me’, and in the apostle John’s assertion that he, Jesus, is ‘in the bosom of the Father’, totally enwrapped in the affirmation and love of the Father and in total reliance upon Him.
Jesus wants his followers to engage with each other in similarly total depth and mutual commitment.
We may wonder how we can do, seeing that we are so different, even and often so particularly in the ways we pray, worship and serve Christ. Yet the fact is that we are all called to love and affirm and support each other, however much we may differ. We are called to recognise that, different as our ways may be, we have only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, whereby we become brothers and sisters by His adoption and children of the one Father. We come, with our Jesus, to serve the one, who is His Father and our Father, in adoration and obedience, that all may be one in the one Church to which, in His will, we all belong. We come that all the promises of the Father may be fulfilled in us and the New Creation be brought to perfection through our loving co-operation with all His plans for the new Jerusalem.
Prayer for Unity of all humanity in the charity and truth of Christ.
‘Father, we pray for the unity of all Christians. May your spirit penetrate all our souls and draw us closer to Christ in holiness. Today, we pray for the unity of all humanity in the charity and truth of Christ. Give all your children an ever greater holiness and lead us all, along your path, to unity in the love and truth of Christ’.