Common Grounds

That They All Might Be One …

January 11, 2021

Living Words from John Paul II

Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen


Published Sunday, 10 January 2021

That They All Might Be One …

Each week we let Saint Pope John Paul II share meaningful signposts to spark socio-economic resolves through justice and righteousness combined with mercy and compassion; in short, love.


Unity is a great gift, a gift that we bear in fragile and breakable vessels of clay.


At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed for his disciples 


             "that they all might be one as you Father are in me and I in you" (John 17: 20-21).


Unity is the "treasure" that he gave them. It is a treasure that presents two characteristics. On the one hand, unity expresses fidelity to the Gospel, and, on the other, as the Lord himself stated, it is a condition that all might believe that he is the one sent by the Father.


Many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true heritage of Jesus Christ. To be sure, all proclaim themselves to be the disciples of the Lord, but their convictions clash and their paths diverge as if Christ himself were divided". 


With a pure and sincere heart, we should work tirelessly to accomplish this evangelical mandate. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity brings us back to this basic task and offers us the chance to gather for prayer in our own Churches and ecclesial communities, and in joint gatherings with Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, so that with one voice and heart we may pray for the precious gift of full unity. 


"We have this treasure in vessels of clay" (II Corinthians 4: 7). St Paul says this when speaking about the apostolic ministry that consists in making the splendour of the Gospel shine forth for humanity and observes: "We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; as for ourselves, we are your servants for the sake of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4: 5).


Yes, the gift of unity is contained in "vessels of clay" that can break and for this reason demand the greatest care. It is necessary to cultivate among Christians a love that is dedicated to overcoming the differences; it is necessary to make the effort to overcome every barrier with unceasing prayer, with persevering dialogue, and with fraternal and concrete cooperation in helping the poorest and the neediest. 


             "Holy Father, despite our weakness, you have made us witnesses of hope, faithful disciples of your Son. We carry this treasure in vessels of clay and we fear we may fail in the face of sufferings and evil.


              At times, we even doubt the power of the word of Jesus, who said, "that they all may be one'.


             Give us again the experience of the glory that shines on the face of Christ, so that in all our actions, our dedication, and our life we may proclaim to the world that He is alive and at work among us.




Excerpted from:




Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Wednesday 22 January 2003




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