Unity

Every week, we are given a Scripture so timely and so necessary that we ought to spend more than a passing moment on it. This week, however, sandwiched as it is between foundational truths about God’s promises and God’s generous abundance, the second reading can get overlooked, or leastways overshadowed because the other readings are so neatly knit together.

As we draw nearer yet to the conclusion of our time dwelling on discipleship, the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians have vital importance to us as a body of disciples. In the midst of such divisive times as we face, Paul is writing to us, on behalf of the Holy Spirit:

“…Live in a manner that is worthy of the call you have received…”

This is clear, of course, that we ought to be about the business of making our lives as Christlike as we can. Paul moves on to elaborate on some other points, principally as it concerns the community of believers, but I think we shouldn’t discard or sell short the implication of the personal responsibility we each bear as Christ’s members to practice growing in virtue, living out the love we see and experience in Jesus himself, and constantly repenting of our sins — we don’t hide or try to cover its faults, we must work to overcome them.

“… With all gentleness and patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace…”

Now these characteristics are how we prove our progress in the Lord amongst our neighbors in the Church. When we become more gentle with one another, more patient, and more accepting of each other, “warts and all,” we begin to demonstrate that not only have we been called, but we have taken up that call, responding through the Spirit at work in us to Jesus, and accepting the burden of conversion.

This does not mean, by any stretch, that we treat those outside the Church any less gently, or patiently, or lovingly. On the contrary, if we can’t treat those in Christ thus, how shallow and pale our love for the sick and the sinner will be. We would make of ourselves liars, who love the lost and treat with contempt our neighbor in the pew.

“… One body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism…”

Not only must we merely accept one another’s presence with gentleness, patience and love, we must seek unity. The Holy Spirit helps us through the Word, the teachings and the Sacraments we celebrate, to become more unified. It isn’t so much that we have to believe or live the same way, but we must believe the same things and put the virtues that follow from our calling into practice concretely. Obviously, not everyone’s witness to faith will result in some bland, uniform representation of what is “Christian,” — the lives of the Saints should remind us of that much — but the things we value should be the same. We all must value the glory of God, life at every stage, the goodness in every human person and must venture to make the most of these things by the application of our will and the employment of our distinct gifts.

“… One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Finally, Paul returns us to the place this all started, the place anything at all started. God is one; God is holy. Therefore, everything from him will move toward oneness and holiness. Any source of division amongst us is from the enemy, and while we can and will disagree, that never should lead to division.

These days, it is clearer than perhaps anytime in history, thanks to social media and the dawn of the internet, that each one of us has opinions — many of them strong, and deeply held. But when those opinions prevent us from unity in Christ, from unity in values, from gentleness and patience toward one another, then we have made of our opinions something very different, and far more destructive: a false god and an idol in our own image.

Let us be swift to set aside our own priorities and subscribe to those of Christ. Yes, that may hurt, and may be difficult, and it will mean adjusting your politics, but that’s good. We have never seen a politician who lives, loves and values God the way Jesus did, does and commands us to do. This makes plain that if you’re looking for a savior who holds public office, you’re looking in very much the wrong place.

The person you see in the mirror each morning should remind you more and more of Jesus: in loving those closest to him; in loving the poor through concern and charitable action and, most of all, in loving God with all his mind, heart, soul and strength. Jesus is calling you to be a sign of hope for the world and has given you the Holy Spirit to live up to that call.

David Dunst
Music Director

 

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