the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation we find that God is constantly calling his people forth into life and to the sharing of life. Jesus' prayer in today's Gospel sums up the whole of God's longing and of his vision for his people.
For we are created in the image of God. And God himself is a mystery of unity: the communion of three distinct persons. We show forth the image of God in our lives to the degree that we too are a communion of persons: with God but also with our human brothers and sisters. To the degree that we are alienated and divided from one another we do not show forth the image of God in our lives and we are untrue to our own deepest reality.
The unity for which Jesus prayed is not primarily something we achieve or initiate by our effort. It is gift. It is based on the one life of Christ within us. As we yield to his life within us we find not so much that we achieve unity but that we are already one.
But we have to show forth this unity and allow it to come to expression. If our human life is to be the sacrament of the One life of Christ within us we have to show by our life that we are one. And this applies within our families, within the Church, between the different traditions of Christianity, and within the widest horizon of the human family.
The life of Christ is embodied in each in a unique and individual way.
There is no violence to our own integrity and freedom. But as each unfolds to the life of Jesus within we shall find that within the diversity and pluriformity of our lives there is a Unity which has no purely human origin.
The world finds it so difficult, if not impossible, to live together in ways that are creative and not destructive. The forces of sin and egotism are too strong. But this unity is the mark of the Church, the presence of God's kingdom on earth.
In Jesus' own words it is through our unity that "the world will realise that it was you who sent me", that God's presence will be recognised on earth. ". . . so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them." Deep love unites people so that we may truly say that "the one lives in the other". Without loss of one's own integrity and freedom the intimate presence of the other becomes operative within one's own life and actions. Jesus is at the deepest source of my own life.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last." Christ is our origin, He is our goal. The Christian life is a gradual transformation into the Mystery of Christ. The same, albeit unrecognised, is true of all human life. The whole of creation is moving towards that Omega in which we shall no longer even think of ourselves as separate from Christ for He will be all in all. At that moment each one of us shall be able to say, with Stephen, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Michael Simpson, SJ