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How to Be IN

In the Gospel Reading for the Seventh Sunday, Jesus prays to the Father that all those who believe in him may be one, as he and the Father are one. And he goes on to give a dizzying description of what this “being one” is. Here is a summary:

The Father is in Christ.
Christ is in the Father.

Christ is in the people who believe in him
The Father is in the people who believe in Christ
(since the Father is in Christ, and Christ is
 in those people who believe in Christ)

The people who believe in Christ are in Christ and the Father.*

If my beloved is mine, then somehow he is part of me, as are all things that are mine.

Vertigo visits us, because we think of being in as something that goes only one way. The tiny box is in the small box, which is in the medium-sized box, etc. But however this list goes on, we do not expect it to go on like this: “which is in the large box, which is in the tiny box.” It can’t go on like that, we think, because being in can’t work that way.

And that might be right, where boxes are concerned. But it isn’t right when it comes to love.

In fact, this funny kind of being-in is at the heart of love. When you and another person love each other, then, without losing the self that you are, you come to be inside that other, who at the same time is inside you, without losing the self that is his, either.

The very nature of union in love is just this mutual indwelling: “my beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song of Songs 2:16). If my beloved is mine, then somehow he is part of me, as are all things that are mine. But then if I am his, I am somehow part of him, as are all things that are his.  And so I am in him, and he is in me, in love.

This is the love of Christ and the Father. Each one is in the other. And this is the love to which Christ invites all those who care for him, too. In love, they will be in Christ and the Father, even as Christ and the Father are in each one of them.

Eleonore Stump
 * Ed: Some dioceses (the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia) still retain the feast of Ascension on Thursday, as it was in tradition, and therefore on Sunday they will use the readings from the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Most others have the Ascension feast on Sunday, and they will use the Ascension readings instead of those from the Seventh Sunday. Moreover, there are several possible second readings for Ascension.

Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University

Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go