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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus prays for our unity with him and with each other. The Church is one because its founder is one. Jesus compels a choice precisely because he claims to speak and act in the very person of God. Jesus simply cannot be one teacher among many, and therefore those who walk in his way must be exclusively with him.

Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) commented that the opening line of the Nicene Creed, “I believe in one God,” is a subversive statement, because it automatically rules out any rival claimant to ultimate concern. To say that one accepts only the God of Israel and Jesus Christ is to say that one rejects as ultimate any human being, any culture, any political party, any artistic form, or any set of ideas.

A Christian, I would argue, is someone who, at the most fundamental level of his or her being, is centered on the one God of Jesus Christ. This helps to explain why, on the last night of his life on earth, while sitting at supper with his disciples, the core of the Church, Jesus prayed, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one.”