Easter 7: Prayer for Unity/ Ascension, Sun 28 May 2017 -Vicar’s Reflection
I am always moved when I read Jesus’ earnest prayer for our unity in John 17. Even more so as I consider that the potential for dis-unity is within Jesus’ teachings. As an example, Jesus frequently said: “Whoever has ears let them hear”; implying that the listener should make their own judgement on the meaning of this teaching. There are similar such sayings relating to behaviour such as Luke 12:57: “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” All the parables of Jesus carry implicit questions: “Who are you in this story?”; and “how therefore would/ should you act?” This freedom Jesus gave to his followers greatly contrasted with the approach of the Pharisees and other religious teachers, who expected people with a troubling situation to come to them to formulate a judgement according to the Law. Inevitably this freedom leads to differences of opinion over difficult issues. We can be thankful that Jesus also gave us clear and simple standards by which to make judgements, the most important being: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ Jesus’ Ascension, celebrated last Thursday therefore, represents his great confidence in his followers to make correct and loving judgments despite his physical absence. His living presence is with us and in us by God’s promised Holy Spirit. May Christian unity be always and everywhere based on love and mercy.