Commentary on the Gospel of
May they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you (John 17:21)
As a scholar who studies Catholic schools, one thing that has always interested me is the idea of Catholic schools as faith communities. In these settings, the Holy Spirit moves through a rich network of human relationships to bring a school community to life. And as it is with schools, so too is it with our other faith communities, such as our parishes and our families. Without each other, we have nothing.
Today’s gospel passage reminds us that our faith is broader than any one of us, or even a group of us. Jesus prayed “not only for these, but for those who will believe in [him] though their word so that they may all be one” (John 17:20-21). For this is the beauty of our faith – that we are all part of one body, each playing our individual roles, working together to create the Kingdom of God on Earth. This passage connects us as individuals, and groups of individuals, to the body of the Church in a beautiful and touching way.
As I prayed on this passage, I was moved to think about those moments during which I sought to expand relationships with others to broaden our faith community. It’s not always easy. Evil is at work in all of our lives, leading us to build walls to divide us instead of bridges to connect us. But being a follower of Jesus has always been about these encounters and about how we invite others into relationships of faith.
I hope that as you read this passage, that you too might think for a few moments about what it means to be part of a global faith community. How do our behaviors attract, or drive others away from this faith community? Do we consistently behave in a way that exemplifies all that is good about our faith? Or, does our example send the message that others are not welcome. If you are anything like me, the answer probably lies somewhere in between.
The one thing about Jesus and his ministry that resonates most with me is that Jesus went out of his way to engage those on the margins, cast off by society and forgotten about. Jesus was drawn to them, and through love, they became part of something greater. In the present day, I hope that together we can seek a similar path – inviting those we know who are cast off by society into relationships of love and care, so that they too may be drawn to the light of faith. For it is through these loving relationships that we will truly build the Christ’s Church on Earth.