Praying with today’s Gospel reading (John 6: 60-69) left me thinking of the meaning of the word, “one”. It is a simple word, but one that can get us thinking. Looking at the scripture the word is first used in reference to the apostles, dividing them into two groups…those who believe and Judas. Then the word is used again, dividing the group again into individuals and their gift given to each by the Father. Lastly, Peter uses the word when he identifies Jesus as “the Holy One of God”.
All this emphasis on “one” is a great reminder of the value of just one soul. So often, we get caught up in the numbers game. We work so hard to evangelize and look to see how many people come to the programs we offer or to the festivals we work so hard to make a success. High numbers of people participating is a way of saying, “our efforts are a success.” We can feel proud, accomplished, productive, efficient, and useful to the Lord when we have good numbers. But truly, where is our focus when we only look at the numbers?
I remember one of the very first times I was invited to a local parish to give a talk after one of the Sunday Masses. The talk was geared toward women, on the topic of forgiveness, and intended to promote an upcoming women’s retreat. I was invited by a prayer group consisting of four women. Seventy women showed up for the event. The pastor loved the talk. The women were thrilled. The place was filled with a phenomenal energy as everyone buzzed with discussion, deep emotions were shared, and so many said they were helped. The afternoon was amazing as it was clear that women were moved into the healing experience of forgiveness that day. In the end, not one woman came on retreat and the day was judged to be a dismal failure! But, I ask, was it really a failure?
One soul can make a difference. One was sent by the Father to be a Savior for all. One followed the beckoning of God who burned a bush without destroying it. We all know that “one” ended up leading a people to freedom. One moment, one choice, one word, one action of love, one person can make the difference between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate. If only we would realize the value of “one” maybe, just maybe we would see the love God offers us in and through “One”. Maybe we would stop judging and start trusting that God’s loving will is being worked out in the midst of both our dismal failures and huge successes.