‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Today's lectionary reading is from John chapter 17 v20 to 26. The passage is a prayer from Jesus to the father. It is a heart felt plea.
We see Jesus acting here in the role he promised to fulfil as the mediator between us and God the father. Jesus prays "...on behalf of these ...". He is praying for us. Not just the disciples there near him but those who hear what they, the disciples have to say.
In the previous verses of Chapter 17, Jesus begins his prayer for the disciples. Knowing that he will soon be leaving them he is clearly concerned for what might happen to them without his protection. Jesus has given them the word and as he phrases it the world hates them for it. Jesus knows that one of the tools, you may say weapons they have to enable them to succeed is sticking together. Following Jesus gives us, as Christians real unity as we have one master, and one word at our head.
The disciples are in the world but called not to be of it. To bring a message that will not always be well received. Jesus is clearly anxious what they will do next. We are charged with the same responsibility and we make mistakes along the way. Some of those bring us disunity.
There is a story I love of a camp at Schlos castle. The camp was operated by the Germans and on the penultimate day of the war in Europe the guards fled. This left the French prisoners of war with a problem. An SS grenaders unit was planning to attack the camp and kill the prisoners. The French sent two of their number to find help. They found a German officer Gangl. Gangl, although German was no Nazi and had been helping the local resistance.
He and his 20 loyal men could not hold off the SS so in an act of bravery a handful of Germans and a handful of Americans took up position on the castle walls. On the morning of May 5th 1945, and at the closing hours of the war this bizarre group fought the only joint German American action of the war and a successful one.
Even the most bitter of enemies are able to work together and when they do great success can be had.
How much, how very much more can we the Church succeed when we work together. Jesus desperately wants us to work side by side to achieve the mission and call he has given us. That's not always easy but we don't have to strive alone. We have the spirit ever with us and Jesus mediating prayers to the throne on our behalf!
We don't have to look far into the new testament to see disagreements, splits and divisions. Our Christian history is full of breaks, disagreements and falling out. However, unity for us comes from having one head, one God, one clear leader to follow. He stands in front and if we all look to him; we will find we are all in unity. Our own opinions and views become the lesser when Jesus is at the fore.
To quote my favourite poet ... `Now this is the Law of the Jungle—as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die. As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk, the Law runneth forward and back— For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack
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