One By Embracing Our Differences.

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 12, 2024 Seventh Sunday of Easter - John 17:11-19

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My first thought after reading today’s gospel was that it is not applicable in today’s world. Jesus prayed that we all be one, just as he and God are one. But how is that even possible  today where people seem so much at odds with one another? Where wars and conflicts seem everywhere? Where one TV network supports one political view and another favors a party that seems opposite in almost every way.


I walk in my neighborhood and I know that differences between political attitudes and party membership is common. Some proudly fly American flags and others prefer to be flagless. Pundits on TV and on social media seem to relish such differences. Helps ratings, they claim.


I attend Sunday Mass where some kneel while others stand. My guess is that I am witnessing not only differences in bodily position, but diverse views on the nature of the church, including what is appropriate behavior while at worship. Yet Jesus prays in John’s Gospel “that we all be one.” Today, however, so many of us seem to live the opposite. On the surface is that wrong?

Maybe not. Notice that some differences are not only common, but perhaps a positive part of life. Think of the differences between all of us, even among our own family members or between married couples. What would it be like if we all looked the same, thought and acted the same way? The French have a wonderful phrase: Vive la difference. It’s intended as a positive. It suggests that life without differences would be boring and uninteresting. I would add that it would not be in accord with the basic blueprint of God’s creation itself, especially of humans.

So let’s set aside the notion of the unity called for by Jesus is not a call to be exactly the same. Rather think of it in terms of acceptance of variety. Jesus chose twelve apostles and from what we know of them, they were a very diverse group. When Jesus inquired as to their views of various matters, he likely received twelve different responses. But they cared about each other. They supported each other. They were friends. (Another quality Jesus prayed that they be.)

So maybe we might say that we are one, not by ignoring differences between us, but by embracing them. Even being enriched by them. That accepting, and even caring about those who hold views different from ours, may actually be a blessing.

David M. Thomas, PhD     

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