GOSPEL MESSAGE & RECORDING
That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (St. John 17: 21-23) These are the Words of Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ is praying this prayer to His Father in regard to us—we who are the believers of him. In particular, he mentions that he and his father are one, and just as they are one, so also, we are one with them. This might seem like a contradiction, that is, that the Trinity and mankind could be one. But from the beginning of time, man has always searched for how there could be “unity” within “diversity.” For the Christian, at least, that quest is a reality with the Holy Trinity.
When we look at the word “university” it is a combination of “unity” and “diversity.” When brought together, these words take on the following meaning: the various disciplines of learning (engineering, education, medicine, business, liberal arts, etc.,) are brought together in unity, and form an oneness of purpose and vision. Likewise, for the believers—the Church—we all come from different backgrounds, experiences, languages, etc., but come together in one faith and truth. The cornerstone of the idea of “oneness” is not in its “singularity” but in the fact that singularity was achieved from diversity. The fact that Christ is God and Man is not a contradiction of the unity or oneness of God, in fact, it is reaffirms it. That is, if humanity and divinity could be so perfectly unity then the idea of oneness is possible for humanity, particularly the Church.
Though this is the truth, as Christians, we seldom tend to live it out. It is the reason why Christianity, or the followers of Jesus Christ find themselves in so many different denominations and sects. Albeit, let alone, within the umbrella of Orthodoxy, the factional and political fighting contradict the “oneness” that Christ so desired for us. Let us leave that alone and speak specifically of our actions within the congregation of believers, and our behavior toward each other.
We might have differences of opinion within the general body or in committee meetings, but it should not be taken personally. Realize that we are a part of a greater community and the continuation of the mission takes president over our opinions, misunderstandings or dislikes. There should be a general trust of the system, which we call church governance, to make the right decisions at the right time for the good of all its members. The “checks” and “balances” are already built into such governance, so we have to trust that thing will eventually work out, even if things didn’t go our way.
“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth.” (St. John 17: 16-17) Truth is of paramount importance. For without it we have no foundation. Oneness and unity can only be upheld by the truth itself. For example, the two factions of the Malankara Orthodox Church have been feuding over property for the past 100 years plus. In 2018, the Supreme Court of India settled the problem once and for all and delivered the final verdict. If there is any possibility for oneness between the two factions, it must be predicated on the verdict. Unity cannot be achieved without the fullness of truth. Conversely, truth defines the how unity will be achieved.
Churches/parishes are where friendships are formed. This is a good thing. The issue lie within the concept of “friendship circles:” which are ties that are made between families or friends within the parish that for reasons know or unknown, inadvertently or purposefully exclude other families and/or persons. Most of the time this is done innocently, but over time can be seen as a visible social separation within the faith community. Best friends, friends and family ties within the parish are not preventable but remember to be inclusive when it comes to attachments toward people.