Year C Easter 7 John 17
A Strange, New Math
Rather strange math, isn't it? Well, it's God's math, so let's see how it works.
That strange formula really comes from the gospel text for today. For the past several weeks during this Easter season, our gospel readings have come from that section of John's gospel known as the Final Discourse of Jesus. This last speech, if you will, that Jesus makes to his disciples concludes with these verses from the 17th chapter. It is really a prayer of Jesus to his Father in heaven and has often been called the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus. In a sense, it is Jesus' last will and testament, his parting shot, his last effort to teach, to exhort, to encourage, to empower his disciples.
Now for the math part. Listen to Jesus' words: "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will 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, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." Did you hear it? 1 + 1 + 1 = One. It's not too difficult, once we understand the parts of the equation. Let's unravel the mystery slowly.
- The Father and Son Are United.
- You and I Are United.
- The Holy Spirit Unites Father, Son, and Us.
Fingerprints and Lovemarks
Fingerprints are nothing new. The delicate swirls, ridges, and patterns that lie at the tips of our fingers have long been recognized as a form of personal identification.
The ancients might not have realized the extreme uniqueness of every person's fingerprints. But as far back as the reign of the Babylonian King Hammurapi (1792-1750 BCE), convicts were fingerprinted. In China as early as 246 BCE, fingerprints were used to "sign" legal contracts. In 1788 a German anatomist, Johann Christoph Andreas Mayer, proved and published that fingerprints are unique to each individual. The idea caught on so fast that by the mid-nineteenth century, data banks of fingerprints were being collected all over the world for identification purposes.
Any CSI buffs here? You know micro-processors race and run at breakneck speed through millions of fingerprints in order to catch the bad guys or exonerate the good guys.
Science has revealed other ways we are unique and singular. Our DNA is our own. Each cell of our body is genetically coded just for us. High tech gadgetry has made it possible for us now to open sealed doors just by looking at them. Okay, more accurately just by looking through a retinal scanner, because the shape, diameter, and surface bumps of your baby blues (or browns, or greens) is completely unique to you.
Oh, if you happen to have an x-ray of your skull lying around, check out the shape of your nasal sinuses. Those too are unrepeated in any other person.
God made us in so many ways wholly and totally different from one another. Yet as Jesus offers up to the Father his own personal "Lord's Prayer," he closes by praying for "oneness" among all those who follow him as his disciples. Does this mean that Jesus prays for us all to be the same? To be a body of "beige believers"? Is this a call for "cloned Christians"? A franchise faith? A lemming life? A monotone mission? Is every follower of Jesus expected to keep the same pace, have the same stride, move to the same rhythm?
Read again. When Jesus prayed for "oneness" he was not just looking around the Passover table at twelve individuals — none of whom were learned scholars or Torah experts, by the way. Yes, Jesus was praying for those who had followed him for the past three years. But he was also praying for the next generation and the next. Jesus was also praying for those who would come to faith because of the words and witness of those first twelve. And Jesus was praying for the generation after that one . . . and for the generation after that one . . . and for all future generations . . . until the end of time...