The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us. John 17:22-23 (The Message)
Many of us operate from a much more dualistic sense of spirituality than we ought to. We tend to see and act as though God were wholly “other.” We imagine our relationship with God as with One who accompanies us, helps us, counsels us, but who is ostensibly apart from us. How is this different from Jesus’ relationship with His Father? And how does Jesus’ prayer—that we would be one with God just as He and the Father are one—address this?
Mother Teresa was one among many saints who understood the spirituality of a life lived in tandem with God’s movement. She taught her sisters the importance of this theology when she wrote,
We must be aware of our oneness with Christ, as he was aware of his oneness with his Father. Our activity is truly apostolic only in so far as we permit him to work in and through us – with his power, his desire, his love.
Jesus told us plainly that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:4). Instead of seeking God for our marching orders, and then assuming the task of deploying these, we should rather seek, as Jesus did, God’s direct movement within us as the very power by which we do all things. This is the gift of the New Testament whereby our obedience to God is to be sought through the impulse of the Holy Spirit, . As the Lord assures us through the prophet Ezekiel, “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees” (Eze. 36:26-27).
Jesus offers the example of His own life as a model for the type of relationship we are to anticipate. Because He desires to share this one-ness with us, Jesus prays that we would be united with the Trinity, just as He and the Father are. Mother Teresa reiterates this hope to her sisters and highlights its relationship to prayer .
Our lives must be connected with the living Christ in us. If we do not live in the presence of God, we cannot go on. If you don’t pray, your presence will have no power; your words will have no power.
No other definition exists for the nature of our unity with God than the one Jesus Himself offered when He said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (Jn. 15:10). Jesus’ “commands” are simply the prompts of His indwelling Spirit moving us, from within, to be conformed to God’s will. There is no other way to live the Christian life than in unity with Christ. Mother Teresa saw this as essential to anything we would call spiritual in our lives. She wrote,
Prayer is the very life of oneness, of being one with Christ. Therefore, prayer is as necessary as the air, as the blood in our body, as anything to keep us alive – to keep us alive to the grace of God. Ask the Holy Spirit to pray in you. Learn to pray, love to pray, and pray often. Feel the need to pray and want to pray.
The apostle Paul boldly declared that, “the life I live is not my own, it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal, 2:20). Can we say the same about ourselves? If not, what adjustments do we need to make in order for this statement to be true for us as well? The honest answers to these questions should make clear to us the spiritual direction we are being called to as we grow in our unity with God.
The whole progress of the soul consists in its being moved by God; but our own part remains in placing it in “a state to receive this motion”
St. John of the Cross.