Anne O’Brien, our Director of Mission, today reads from John’s Gospel (17: 20-26) in which Jesus prays for the future unity of those who believe.Father, Your Son prayed that all his followers would be one. Penitent for the divisions and disagreements in the Church, we pray for harmony and true unity with him and with one another. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. Anne notes, divisions among Catholics or within the wider Christian community are immensely damaging to the mission of the Church and invites us to move forward in unity and love.
Anne says this is such a heartfelt prayer from Jesus to the Father. Jesus looks ahead to the time when many disciples will believe in him through the witness of other disciples. He prays that all believers ‘may be one’ as he and Father are one. United with one another in love, they will give a convincing witness to the world of the ultimate love of the Holy Trinity, which fills their hearts but they need to share this love. The disciples have such a responsibility. In his encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint (‘That they may be the one’), St. John Paul II calls for Christian unity. He writes, ‘This unity, which the Lord has bestowed on this Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people, is not something added on, but stands at the very heart of Christ’s mission….it belongs to the very essence of this community. God wills the Church, because he wills unity, and unity is an expression of the whole depth of his agape [love]’ (art.9). Anne says, today’s Gospel reminds us of the necessity for Christians to be completely one, so we finish with prayer as Jesus prayed, not only for his disciples, but also for those who believe through him. Anne prays: