Thursday 6 June 2024

It's Harmony and Wholeness

That all may be one.

On the night he was arrested, the Gospel of John tells that Jesus had a lengthy conversation with his eleven closest followers. Judas had already left to betray him, it says, and Jesus tells them some really important things. The kind of things you say when you know you’re about to leave.

The gospel tells it like a lengthy monologue, mostly, but I can’t help but think there was conversation. There’s just too many important things. I think there would have been more back and forth, especially when he could see how anxious they were.

He tells them not to be afraid. He tells them about The Way, the truth and the life. He tells them the Holy Spirit will be there to help them. He describes himself as the true vine, of which we are the branches. He gives them the commandment to love one another as he has loved them. Big stuff.

Then, at the end, he prays. And in that prayer he asks God to take care of them and he talks about the relationship of God, Jesus and his followers, that they may be one. But not just them. “I ask not only on behalf of these but also on behalf of those who 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.”

After all the time they’d spent living with Jesus, learning with Jesus, growing with Jesus and being empowered by Jesus, stories that we have so that we could know Jesus, too. After being reminded that they know The Way to live - the way that is true to the divine spirit and earthy humanity that is in them, so that we could know that, too. After being “commanded” (meaning that in the best possible way) to love as he showed them to love in his own life, so that we could know that, too. After all that, he prays that all may be one. After all that, I think Jesus knew that we’d still find it difficult - too difficult, even - we’d still fail frequently and we’d still think we weren’t good enough to be Jesus, that we weren’t good enough to be love in the world. Even though we already are.

I wonder if Jesus could see that we wouldn’t understand that all of that begins with knowing that we are one, not in uniformity or sameness, but in how our uniqueness is connected by love. We see difference and diversity as the things that separate and divide us. We’re fearful of things we don’t know. But true community, what Jesus would call the kingdom of heaven here, comes with affirming and embracing difference as an opportunity to connect and grow. True community isn’t just a collective of like minds and similar ideas where people connect on their common ground. It’s when people feel they truly belong, that their own uniqueness is a welcome, valuable, contributing piece of what makes the community. The things we have in common are an introduction, but the respectful sharing of our unique selves is what makes a new, healthy, whole community.

We need love to do that. We need grace, compassion, empathy, and all the things that are the life of Jesus, however and whoever you know as Jesus. The one-ness Jesus prays for isn’t conformity or uniformity, it’s harmony and wholeness.