'I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full' John 10: 10

These beautiful words express Jesus’ hopes, desires and dreams for us and the whole purpose of his coming to live among us, on earth, as man. To me they sound like the opening words of his mission statement.

The feast of The Presentation of the Lord, has been set aside as a day of prayer for our whole Institute as we explore the essence and heart of our refocused mission statement from the “2013 General Chapter:

We call ourselves to a renewed vision of
Mercy Mission,
Community Living
and Leadership.

We are using the words of Christ quoted above as the focus for our day of prayer. If we have a good sense of the richness of Christ’s words ‘fullness of life,’ we will be better equipped to work on the issues buried in our Chapter Call.

As I reflect on these words my thoughts return to that heartfelt prayer Jesus made to his Father at the last ‘Passover’ meal he shared with his disciples, the night before he died. It is a prayer that sounds like his last Will and Testament. His words are consoling for he prays not just for those present at the meal but include us all:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” 

His prayer is for a profound unity among us:

“that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” Jn17:20.

This gift of unity, which Christ implores for us from the Father, would seem to be of the same essence as the Unity of the Blessed Trinity. It is a call for all believers to be so united with each that we reflect the unity of the Blessed Trinity and indeed are drawn into the unity of the Blessed Trinity. Such unity would indeed give us ‘fullness of life.’ It is, Christ believes, through the witness of this unity that all peoples will find faith in Christ.

 When we consider our divided, ravaged world today, the many wars, and conflicts, protests, massacres, the torture, abuse and the dreadful suffering of those caught up in the conflicts and all the injustices that lead to conflict we can understand something of the strength of Christ’s plea for unity. He reiterates this plea a second time:

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be One as we are One, I in them and you in me, so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them, even as you have loved me.” Jn.17:22-23

We are in touch with deep mystery here: the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity into which Jesus seeks to draw us.
It would seem that ‘fullness of life’ will be limited unless there is profound unity among us. We can see that the need for unity is laced through the elements of what we have called ourselves to vision anew. So we need to ask ourselves ‘what are the attributes or qualities that contribute to unity and fullness of life?’

I believe Christ outlined these early in his Public Ministry during his Sermon the Mount. We call them ‘The Beatitudes’

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”Mt.5:3-10

My sense is that to experience the fullness of life of we need to be, humble not self seeking; to be quietly steadfast and firm in the face of aggression; to remain strong in the face of loss and sadness; to be passionate in seeking justice for the marginalised and powerless; to be merciful and compassionate in response to those in distress or need; to be chaste and faithful in all our relationships; to bring peace to fraught situations through deep listening and a calm presence; to suffer and maybe die for what is true and just.

To be the sort of people that Jesus describes in his Sermon on the Mount we truly need to embrace the fruit of Christ’s prayer to his Father. We cannot possibly doubt that the Father who sent his Son into the world would refuse his final request the night before he concluded his mission on earth. The onus is on us to grasp and hold that precious grace of unity. It seems we need to be so immersed in the unity for which Christ prayed and so finely tuned into the impulses of God that we become the vessels that carry God’s presence into every situation.

This is an awesome responsibility but the rewards are great – the fullness of life here and now and the promise contained in Christ’s prayer:

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” Jn10:24

Possible Reflection Questions

Each of the Beatitudes promises a special grace or gift, which gift or gifts speaks most to you about ‘Fullness of Life?’
Can you think of words or phrases which express something of the unity Christ prayed for?

What enables people to live and work in unity?

Camilla Hunt