Philokalia: May they be one
Draw near, all of you who share the Orthodox calling, laity and monks alike, who are eager to discover the kingdom of God that is within you, the treasure hidden in the field of the heart, which is the sweet Lord Jesus. Released from enslavement to things below and from the wanderings of your intellect, you heart cleansed from the passions through the awesome and unceasing invocation of our Lord Jesus and through all the other interconnected virtues that are taught in this present book, you can in this way be united within yourselves and also with God, as the Lord said in His prayer in the Father: ‘May they be one as we are one.’
These words by St Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain (+1809) are from his original introduction to the Philokalia, that incomparable treasury of Orthodox writings on the prayer of the heart. Strangely, the Saint’s introduction is not included in the only English translation of the Philokalia; I found this excerpt in Graham Speake’s Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise.
Two things touched me immediately in this short passage. First, there is the beautiful image of “the treasure hidden in the field of the heart, which is the sweet Lord Jesus.”
Especially, there is the brief comment on Christ’s prayer that “they may be one.” So often this is taken as a prayer for unity among Christians. Saint Nikodimos interprets it as the fruit of true prayer in the life of the believer: “that you may be united within yourselves and also with God.”
Surely Christ’s prayer is also a prayer for the unity of His people — but these words draw us back to the truth that the only hope for unity between Christians is unity within each Christian, and each Christian’s unity with God.