In today’s Gospel Our Lord prays for a unity among his disciples that is not just eternal (with God and all the departed believers who have gone before us and persevered in the faith) but also historical (something that lasts through the centuries until the end of time and beyond). Christian unity must be spiritual and visible, which is why we know the sad divisions between Christians today are not what Our Lord wants for his Church, nor that we be bickering like the Pharisees and Sadducees in today’s First Reading. The world waiting for Christ often looks upon us with the same perplexity as that Roman commander in the First Reading who was trying to get answers and instead got a riot. We can’t hinder the Gospel message through quarreling or agreeing to disagree.
The divisions between Christians at one point in history sadly led to all out war, and Our Lord prayed to the Father that one characteristic of our unity be charity. We are learning that lesson little by little, but charity, truth, and prayer are what will one day enable us once again to celebrate the same sacraments together, profess the same faith together, and follow the same pastoral leadership together. The Pharisees and Sadducees in today’s First Reading argued about the truth of the Resurrection as a general teaching, and on that point, at least, the Pharisees were right, but if someone is in your face it’s not likely that you’re going to accept any truth that comes from his mouth.
Let’s join our prayer today to the prayer of Our Lord: that Christians may be united, spiritually and visibly, in truth, in charity, and in the desire to share the Gospel message with the whole world, above all through our example of charity.
Readings: Acts 22:30, 23:6–11; Psalm 16:1–2a, 5, 7–11; John 17:20–26.