John 17:20-26 Jesus prayed for his disciples, and then he said. "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. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
"Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
Reflection What does it mean for the many to “be one?” In the secular world we are instructed to “...practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours.” Words from the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations. The word that leaps out for me is ‘tolerance.’ In the best sense tolerance means to be sensitive, charitable, kind and open-minded. It also bears a darker twist; to endure, be lenient or give lisence. Of more concern is what I believe is a fundamental assumption of tolerance - we are not one. The implications are grave.
If we accept the premise that we are not one, rather than expecting integrity, connection and solidarity with my neighbors I expect partiality, incongruity and division. With this as the lens through which I see my neighbor naturally I approach her cautiously, using my discriminating mind to detect differences and relying on my intellect to protect my individuality. I hate to admit it but, too often this is my default position. No wonder harmony among peoples is so elusive in our world. No wonder Jesus did not pray for tolerance.
In the course of a single sublime prayer Jesus manged to step beyond the bicameral tendency of the human mind. First he affirmed that two can be one, “As you Father are in me and I am in you...” Then he stretched the tent to be all inclusive, “so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one...”
The many are one and the one is many. This is a fundamental principle of the Christian faith. No wonder so many people have a hard time with us. Our bottom-line or cardinal rule demands we stretch beyond tolerance (and reason)! “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Ro 12.5)
Jesus gives us a singular and unifying perspective. It transcends dualistic thought and dichotomies. It presumes alliance and accord, solidarity and peace. And there it is. The peace that Jesus leaves with us, the peace which passes all understanding, is not about tolerance. Jesus’ peace is the natural manifestation of our fundamental unity. Peace will prevail when we all “become completely one...”