Joseph L. Farrell, O.S.A.
Curia Generalizia Agostiniana
Acts 1: 15-17, 20a, 20c-26
Ps 103: 1-2, 11-12, 19-20
1 Jn 4: 11-16
Jn 17: 11b-19
There are not many details that I recall about the novel, The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas. There is one detail, however that has remained with me over the years. It is the seven-word phrase chosen by the title characters as their motto, “One for all and all for one!” This motto is something that helps define what a team does. Whether the team is associated with work, parish, school, or recreation, each member of a team contributes his or her part to the whole and for the whole. Successes and failures are shared equally among team members. “One for all and all for one” can be a used as a rallying cry to call for unity among diverse members. It can be used to remind us that being united as one is more powerful than falling as individuals. Other phrases speak to the same theme: “United we stand, divided we fall!” or “And if a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). Or for those of you who were fans of Jack Shepherd in the television series LOST, “If we cannot live together, we are going to die alone.” All of these phrases speak of the value of being unified. As unique, gifted, creative, beautiful, complicated, sinful, human and competent people, we know that we can be so much more when we come together.
This theme is clearly repeated in today’s Gospel. John has Jesus praying the following words: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.” One for all and all for one! Isn’t that what Jesus is praying? Oh, that we could all be one as the Father and the Son are one. Indeed, what would the world be like if we lived as one, just as the Father and Son live in that complete oneness? The unity that exists in the relationship between the Father and Son is a unity to which we are all called and for which we were all created. When we cease to live in that unity, we are living in a manner that is contrary to how we are called to be in this world. Where there is war, division, discord, hate, and violence, we are living in a manner that goes against the oneness and unity for which we are created to live. When we take steps toward creating peace, unity, and harmony, we are on the path to fulfilling the vocation to which we are called.
For example, when our brothers and sisters in North and South Korea recently took physical and political and sociological steps toward a more peaceful relationship between the two countries, those steps caught the attention of the world. On many levels, they were significant and historic steps. We all know that there is so much more work to be done in the world regarding peace and unity among people, but just seeing the news of steps toward a more peaceful existence instead of steps of separation brings me a sense of hope that we are working toward something more peaceful instead of something more divisive. Those steps signify that we, as one, are working toward mending past hurts and breaks in our relationships.
How then can we as individuals, families, parishioners, and citizens work toward accomplishing these steps toward peace in our own lives? How can we live in the oneness that Jesus prayed for in the gospel so that we live as the Father and Son are one? How can we live in that Oneness that is God? The answer comes from the second reading we have today from the First Letter of John. The answer can seem so simple and obvious that we can sometimes forget or ignore the advice, or rather, commandment, we receive from the scriptures. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God.” We must then love one another so as to be one and to remain in God. Love one another! One for all and all for one!
Just as we witnessed in the historic steps taken in North and South Korea, we must take steps. The steps we take toward unity don’t always have to have as much diplomatic preparation as that of the Koreas. Nor do we have to wait for fifty, sixty, or seventy years to take those steps. We are called to that oneness now, and in our everyday lives. It can be too easy to fall into the trap of accepting our situations of broken relationships and divisions and not taking the first step toward love. Let our readings today and the Eucharist we celebrate inspire us to take the first step toward healing the brokenness that exists in our lives, our families and our world. Each step of love is a step toward living in the oneness to which we are called. Each one of us is called to work toward that oneness for the good of all. And when someone makes that step, even when that step takes place on the other side of our planet, we all benefit from that step toward unity and oneness. Although Jesus was not one of the Three Musketeers, he was certainly THE ONE FOR ALL. Are we ALL then called to be FOR THE ONE? The motto of the Three Musketeers is one that rings true from Sacred Scriptures, from 19th century French novels and from the lives of each one of us today. Love one another! One for all and all for one!