In this week’s leaflet I thought I’d reflect on John 17 which was last Sunday’s Gospel reading. The reading was pointing out Jesus’ prayer of unity for all believers in Him. Namely that we all be “one as [Jesus and the Father] are one.” (v.11)
Up until this moment of the chapter we see that Jesus is praying for unity of His disciples, ie the apostles, but the context also shows us that Jesus wasn’t praying for them alone, He also prayed “for those who will believe in me through their message” (v.20) Jesus prayed that all Christian believers be one as Jesus and the Father are one. Did Jesus believe in infant baptism but the Father did not? They believed in the truths of heavenly things. They believed the same doctrines. The same truths. Therefore Jesus prayed that we all believe in the same doctrines as He and the Father believed the same.
Was Jesus’ prayer effective? Did it come true or are we to wait until His return that He may unite all Christian denominations who believe differently now but no longer when He comes back at the end of time? The answer to this question can be found in the context of these verses where Jesus prays not only for these apostles to remain one, or simply at His return. Jesus plainly speaks of praying for the unity of not only the apostles but also “Those who will believe in [Him] through [the apostles] message.”
Scripture is also pretty plain that “[t]he prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) Is anyone more righteous than Jesus? Jesus is the pinnacle of righteousness and therefore His prayer is very powerful and effective. Putting these verse together we can see that Jesus prayed for unity of all Christians who believed through the Apostles message. Now, to the extent that a Christian believes some of what Jesus and the Apostles taught he is a member of His Church though imperfectly. The more one is in union with His teachings, ie the Truth, the more in union he is with His Body, the Church.
We know that Jesus’ prayer of unity is very effective therefore there must be a group of believers that believe in unison all that He and the Apostles taught, and this throughout Christian history. Where do we find a group of believers whose teachings can be traced back through history from today to 2,000 years ago? This group can only be found the Catholic Church and Her doctrinal teachings. The Church not only claim this but have historical documents supporting it. Therefore the fullness of Christian unity found here on earth can only be found in the Catholic Church.