Daily Reflection
May 24th, 2007

Robert P. Heaney

John A. Creighton University Professor
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

“. . . that they all may be one, as you, Father, and I are one . . . so that the world may believe. . .”

These seem to me to be among the saddest words in the Bible. Sad, because we have failed this prayer so miserably, so consistently, right from day one. Today we live with a fractured, fragmented Christianity – East and West, Protestant and Catholic, with hundreds of splinter groups within the major divisions. How can the world believe – what is the world to believe – if the witness we give of Jesus is divided and divisive?

Even if we personally didn’t cause the splits, we have to be concerned about them. We have to take responsibility for doing something about them. We fail Jesus’ post-resurrection command to preach the good news to every creature if our divisions give the lie to what we preach (if, that is, we even preach it . . .). Somehow we find enough fervor to be concerned about global warming, the ecology, rain forests, and threatened species. Why can’t we seem to muster an at least equivalent concern for this challenge, surely no less important than the others? The world desperately needs to hear the good news, but so long as we pigheadedly stick to our divisions, we make it impossible for the world to hear Jesus’ message. Religion is seen as divisive and therefore irrelevant.

It is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong. So long as we disobey Jesus’ fervent plea at the Last Supper, we are all of us wrong. We have to realize that it is possible to have unity without uniformity. We have to make room for differences and for different perspectives; but above all, we have to be together.

There is an interesting, possibly instructive parallel in a story we read a few weeks ago from Acts (Acts 6:1–12). It is the dispute about whether the widows of the Greek-speaking Jews were getting their share of the common resources, particularly food. The dispute was not really about food, but about viewpoints, about culture, about who was a good Jew and who wasn’t. You can just hear the two sides as they approach Peter “Tell them that . . .” “Make them do . . .” Luke doesn’t tell us that Peter sided with one faction or the other, didn’t say one or the other was wrong. What Acts does tell us is that Peter set up a system so that both sides could continue to coexist. That surely is a powerful illustration of what the Petrine office ought to be and to do.

It is we Christians who have to manifest to the world the unity of Jesus and His Father. And we must beseech heaven to help us do that. God wants to help, that’s clear. We have to want to as well. There’s the problem . . .

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail


Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook