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December 1966

I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me. May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me. (John 17:21)

We can consider this phrase as the conclusion of Jesus' prayer to the Father; it seems to express to us the profoundest and highest content of the evangelical message. It speaks to us of unity as the constitutive mark of Christianity, of unity as the deeper life of the Church, of unity as the apostolic testimony of the presence of Christ in the world, for the whole of mankind.

The Christian grafts himself into God not through intellectual purification and contemplation, nor through the exaltation of feeling, but through faith. Jesus in fact prays for all those who will believe in him. The faith demanded of Christians is therefore accessible and possible for all mankind; it is not necessary to be particularly intelligent or to have already gained complete control of one's senses and achieved an "indifference" towards what surrounds us. Christ's teaching is very different from the oriental religious philosophies.

It is faith that saves and truth that penetrates the mind through the "Word" of God, flowing from on high; it demands an opening of the heart and loving docility in the listener as well as humility in accepting the truth that makes free and disposes us to act in a new way. This is why the "disciples" will be called "faithful". For them Jesus prays that they might all be "one". Purely intellectual teaching would never obtain this result, since no human truth can ever penetrate so intimately the souls so as to make them "one".

It appears ever clearer that faith communicates to us as well as divine truth a divine reality. The "Word" of God, which is conveyed to us through the apostles, coincides with the "reality" of God that is given and communicated to us.

Now one begins to understand the significance of Jesus' words: this divine truth will make us "one" ... "Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you"; the Trinity itself, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, communicate themselves through the "word-reality", come to dwell in us, elevating us to their life of full unity and of profound distinction. Through this insertion of the divine-Trinitarian life in us, we, Christians, will be "one'' and yet be distinct one from another.

Many times, thinking of the mystery of grace, that is of the elevation of the Christian in God, one tends to conceive this elevation as an exclusively personal matter, whereas the divine life is only communicated to us in the Trinitarian way, that is, simultaneously in an individual and a social way.

But human concepts and words do not succeed in expressing this mystery of the divine life on earth, since this life is a reflection of the Trinitarian life.

To be united in truth by faith and in acting, love is not therefore a goal of perfection to be reached in the future, but a necessary basic condition, and the Church is not a future goal, but a visible reality, always existing and having always existed.

For us Christians the meaning of this "being one" can and must be extended, but only as the development of an already existing reality, that is the reality of the Christian, who is "one" and "many" at the same time.

Our spiritual life must not consist in "purifying" oneself individually, up to achieving an ecstasy of contact with the divinity: our way of sanctification will be found only in communion with Christ who is in humanity. This is also the apostolic testimony that Jesus asks of us. Human activism not of so much concern as the effort we do so that God, in the unity of brothers, may be present in the world. He then will succeed in making himself present to all mankind giving all the possibility of believing and of being saved.

(Author unknown)

 

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