Reflection by Aidan Troy
A huge number of people in the world do not believe it was God who sent Jesus as Saviour. If God is all-powerful why does He not make sure that everyone does believe this truth? By any standards, this is important not just for a Church but for the World. This is astounding news and needs to be spread to all people everywhere.
Jesus agrees. But God does not work by force or compulsion. God works by invitation, involving anyone who will listen to Jesus and believe. In every era, God bestows the gift of Faith on some people, not as a prize to be protected and admired, but as a mission to be accomplished. God, for his own good reasons, has asked you and me to be the voices of faith and witnesses to love. That is His way.
To attract the attention of the world, Jesus provides a recipe:
“May they all be ONE.
Father, may they be ONE in us…..so that the World may believe it was YOU who sent me………..may they be so completely ONE that the world will realise that it was YOU who sent me and that I have loved them as much as I have loved YOU.” [Words of Jesus to all for all time]
Often, I have been part of discussions to compose a ‘Mission Statement’ for a parish, a church group or for the Passionists. Nothing produced has been better than the Word of Jesus quoted above. The advantage is that they are the words of Jesus. The call to be ONE frightens me as I look into my own heart and as I look around the many churches called ‘Christian’.
It is not original for me to say that Unity or being One is not being the same or Uniformity. Like John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’, supposing all who claim to be followers of Jesus were determined to break down any barriers that separate and build on all that unites. A person who would see how these Christians love one another, might pause more readily and say, ‘I want to meet Jesus’.
Sadly, such is not the case. Years ago, I was walking with visitors in a town in Ireland. On one short road there were five church of different Christian denominations. The visitors asked why so many buildings all dedicated to the same God? What would you have replied? I don’t have a convincing explanation. I blush with personal shame when I hear the words of Jesus, “May they all be one”.
Now let me confess my failures in this regard. There is a wonderful group of people from all the churches in 8th arr. Seldom have I participated in their regular meetings. Mea culpa. If I cannot take part, and most of the participants are lay people, I have not asked you to be the presence and voice of St Joseph’s.
The answer to Jesus’ prayer that we be ONE will not come from Heaven. It will be born of the prayer, good-will and searching together with our sisters and brothers who weekly assemble to worship the same God as we do. As this would grow others will notice and the Spirit will lead them to seek Jesus. We can then welcome them and show He is present in our midst. It sounds like a dream, but it is the way laid out by Jesus.