Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Acts 20:28-38 + John 17:11-19
May 19, 2021
“… that they may be one just as We are one.”
Of the four Gospel accounts, John’s is the loftiest and thus is symbolized by an eagle. In the vocabulary of theology, John has the highest Christology. One can make the case that the Last Supper discourses—found in John 13-17—make up the loftiest part of John (with the possible exception of the prologue in John 1:1-18). Within the Last Supper discourses, the seventeenth chapter of John is commonly titled the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus, and is the loftiest part of these discourses. All of this is stated to point out that in this last week of Easter, we are certainly breathing rarified air.
It’s from today’s Gospel passage that St. John Paul II took the title of his twelfth encyclical letter: Ut unum sint [“That They May Be One”]. It was his only encyclical about ecumenism, and was promulgated in 1995, with St. John Paul already looking toward the Great Jubilee of 2000. Yet he anticipated the Jubilee somewhat wistfully, because he knew that it would not be celebrated with the followers of Jesus united according to the desire that the Lord expressed in John 17:11.
Ecumenism was a topic close to the heart of Pope John Paul II, who was of Slavic heritage, and who grew up along the cultural border between East and West: Orthodox and Catholic lands. He longed both for the unification of the Eastern and Western Churches—in his phrase, the “lungs of the Church”—and for the reconciliation of Protestant ecclesial communities with the Catholic Church.
Slowly and prayerfully re-read today’s Gospel passage. As you continue your Novena to the Holy Spirit, pray that you will accept the Gift of the Holy Spirit in His fullness, ut unum sint.