“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one” (Jn 17:11).
Jesus is well aware of the temptations of the world and recognizes that the disciples will need the protection of his intercession and that they will remain faithful only if they remain in his love and in relationship with him. The unity that the Father and Son share is an eternal communion. Jesus, as the Son of God, continued to be one with his Father, while fully experiencing his humanity. As a human being, Jesus faced the same temptations present in this world that we face. The difference is that with each choice that he made, as a human being with a free human will, he chose to say yes to his Father at each and every opportunity, and so his unity remained intact and deepened.
Jesus sought the same unity that he shares with his Father for his disciples and he seeks the same for us today, that we may be one as he and the Father are one. Yet, he is not going to pull us out of the world for that to happen. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One” (Jn 17:15). The disciples then and us today, are to do as Jesus did. We are to develop a relationship with God, come to know his will, and share it with those we encounter in our realm of influence. We are not to be transformed by the world, but we are to allow God to transform us by the renewal of our mind and heart. As we do so, we can bring light into the darkness as God works through us one person at a time.
Following the will of God is not easy to do. Many distractions, diversions, and temptations pull at us and attempt to draw us away from being faithful and true to God, ourselves, and who God calls us to be. Many times these distractions not only appear to be, but are good things. The challenge is not that we are being good or doing good, but are we doing what God is calling us to do?
I have pursued many interests in many areas throughout my life. I worked my way through college as a nurse’s aide, lived, ran with, and taught about wolves and the environment at the Sharon Audubon Center, spent a summer on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations, spent a year and a half with the Franciscans of Holy Name Province, fell in love, married the woman of my dreams, JoAnn, and helped her to raise her children, all the while teaching in both public and Catholic schools, I have spent the past few years mourning the loss of JoAnn and learning how to live again, have been healing from Covid and pneumonia, and in a few days, I will become a seminarian.
With each of these steps, my relationship with Jesus and his Father has grown. The Holy Spirit has revealed just enough light for me to see a few steps ahead, as St. John Henry Cardinal Newman would say. The Holy Spirit does the same with all of us. He invites us to take a few steps closer to God. If any fear or anxiety arises about what we are invited to do and how better we are to serve, be not afraid. God will provide the means and support. We are not meant to do what he calls us to do alone.
I won’t say that my path has been smooth, but God has been with me each step of the way and I believe God has and will be there for you as well. God will place the people and the means, help us to recognize the temptations and pitfalls, and impart in us the persistence and dedication to accomplish the task that we have been given. We just need to be willing to change, to be transformed, to grow, and to extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones. When we risk doing so, it will be worth it because as we follow the will of God and trust his support, we will find meaning and fulfillment in our lives and ultimately, through the love of the Holy Spirit, we will grow in our oneness with Jesus, the Father, and each other. Starting to get excited for the next few steps.