As a child, I fell afoul of the rules of my home once or twice. One instance particularly comes to mind: I was 5 or 6 years old and I was discovered lighting matches in the basement of our home. On that occasion (as with a few others) I was punished for my deeds.
At the time, I was resentful of that punishment. I felt that my parents were trying to ruin my fun. I did not understand why I should be stopped from doing something as fun as setting things on fire.
Years later, my mother made a comment that helped put a few pieces of the puzzle together. She said to me, "You are a part of me".
It seems now like such a self-evident point, but I realized in that moment that people cared so much for me that what I did actually affected them. What I did affected the members of my household and family. My parents were concerned for my health and well-being. Yes, my match-play may have burned down the entire house, and I'm sure that was a concern, but I think the principle concern was for my own safety.
This connection, this sense of oneness is perhaps felt more viscerally between a parent and child, but this sense of connection can also be felt between close friends, other family members, colleagues.
This is what Jesus is driving at in today's Gospel passage (John 17:2-26). He is trying to point out the fundamental inter-connectedness of all peoples and indeed all persons.
How nonsensical would it be for us to discriminate against our hand? To oppress our foot? To dislike our own eye to the point that we want to poke it out? To abuse our own flesh?
It would make no sense at all. But if we acknowledge that we are connected (as Christ and just about every major world religion and culture has implied or stated explicitly), that we are one, how would that shift our responsibility towards one another? If we would not abuse our own bodies or would not abuse our friends and family members (and I certainly hope we would not do that), why do we feel that it is acceptable to discriminate, oppress, abuse, exclude, be unjust or intolerant towards other people or peoples?
To download the podcast of my sermon for this Sunday, click here.