The prayer for unity is found in the seventeenth chapter of St John’s Gospel. Chiara Lubich saw the words of that prayer as her mission in life, which she immediately shared with her first companions. We publish a 1979 commentary by Fr Pasquale Foresi.
“That they may all be one. As you, Father, 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” (Jn 17:21).
“That they may all be one.” This phrase is the continuation of a previous one in which Jesus also prays for those who would believe him through the words of the apostles. It is the Word that makes us one, and of one mind through the unifying power of the Word that is Christ. The Word of God will continue, down through the centuries, through diverse cultures, continuing to make those who accept it one.
Another feature of the unity brought about by the Word is this: Whereas in any school of philosophy the disciple must never stray from the fundamental intuitions of the master, Christian unity is a vital activity. It is unity of mind and heart, it is family.
That all may be one. This word “all” points to the most absolute and widest universality with no exceptions [. . .]. In this verse, the word “all” is linked to the word “one”. These are the two striking features of the Church: universality (catholicity) and unity. Paul affirms this Christian calling to unity when he writes to the Ephesians: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:3-6).