Jesus, Love, and Interconnectedness


“Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, I pray not only for them,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them.” (Jn 17:20-26)

 

Today’s Gospel reading highlights the interconnectedness between Jesus and the Father, and between Jesus and his followers. In Laudato Si, the recent papal encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis writes, “Everything is interconnected.” There, it is a statement not only about integral ecology, in which our approach to ecology must be interdisciplinary and recognize connections, such as the connection between care for the environment and care for the poor. Pope Francis also cites a number of mystical authors by the end of the encyclical, and also suggests in his Scriptural interpretation, the mutual dependence and interconnectedness of everything.  We are interconnected to poor people elsewhere in the world (and in our own backyards) through our shared environment, shared economy, and especially our shared humanity. We are connected to creation, to the birds singing in our backyards and also the distant coral reefs affected by ocean warming from the fossil fuels that we burn. “Everything is interconnected” in both a material and a spiritual sense.

Here, Jesus highlights the spiritual interconnectedness of everyone: Jesus in God, and us in Jesus, and therefore also our own interconnectedness to both the Father, and to all other human beings, too. When Jesus speaks about “they” here, the language is rather indeterminate. He doesn’t emphasize that only Jesus’ disciples, or only an esoteric few will know the Father, but rather that “the world” will come to know the Father through Jesus. But this coming to know God the Creator through Jesus also importantly translates back in to a genuine knowledge of one another. In this same discourse, Jesus says that others will know that they are his disciples by the love that they show (John 13:35). It’s love that produces knowledge, love that connects us upwards to God and also to one another. Love is already an act of metaphysical interconnection between all of us: just as “God is love,” (Jn 4:8) we are also love, since we are made in God’s image and continually held in God’s love.

Our basic reality is an interconnectedness of love; do we live it in how we are with one another?