Jesus’ address to his apostles the night before he was handed over is a beautiful discourse on the Trinity. He speaks in his own mysterious way of the love that exists between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He does so in relationship to how this internal mystery of God is shared with all of us through him and through his gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus through the Incarnation comes into the world to accomplish the deep desire of God to draw every person into the ‘unity’ that exists between the three persons of God; to bestow upon everyone of us the gift of Divine Life itself!
Jesus’ relationship with each of the apostles is the beginning of the work to draw individuals into the Divine Life through relationship with him. This ‘drawing into’ the life of the Divine Relationship continues after his resurrection and ascension through his gift of the promised Holy Spirit. Listen to these words of Jesus:
I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in my through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them. (John 17: 20-26)
As we experience our own unity with Christ, we are then to build this unity through our relationships with one another, and this unity is built through truth and love. As Jesus built a strong communion between himself and his apostles, so every bishop is to build up a strong communion within his own presbyterate. This thought is very much on my heart and mind today as I prepare to ordain two new men to the priesthood.
Communion is built in many ways, but most especially through the communion of the ‘table,’ the banquet of sacrifice which is the Eucharist. This table of communion is then to be identified with at every Christian table, in every Christian home, in every Christian gathering around any kind of food. The Lord who gives himself as food at every Eucharistic banquet takes up his dwelling in the life of believers. Each believer nourished in Christ is then to nurture this communion of love in every one of his or her relationships.
We experienced this communion that builds unity in the gathering held yesterday evening. It was a time of prayer, fellowship, and food. As the priests, deacons and seminarians gathered, we welcomed one another, and especially those who are being ordained today, along with their family and friends. Every human life needs quality relationships. Every presbyterate needs strong bonds of fraternity, communion, and support. We cannot take these relationships for granted. We must always be intentional in forging the bonds that advance God’s Kingdom. In such bonds, as St. John tells us in his Second Letter:
“Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son in truth and love.” (2 John 3)