Saturday, July 25, 2015

Unity Among Christians

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

This Sunday, the second reading will be from Ephesians 4:1-6.

In this passage in Ephesians, Paul urges the church in Ephesus to nurture and maintain their unity.

How sad it is that Christianity today is so deeply divided! Divided to the point that some Christians refuse to acknowledge one another as fellow laborers for Christ.

I’ve encountered some manifestations of this problems in dealing with members of Daniel’s church when the subject of interfaith concerns comes up. Most of the time, they are very polite - they know where I stand because they’ve been seeing me and conversing with me for six years now. They don’t change the way they’ve acted toward me at all. Other times (probably when people were surprised and didn’t know exactly what to say) I’ve had people suddenly end conversations that I thought were going quite well.

Disunity among Christians is a big problem, and it is one that is hard to know how to take hold of effectively. Paul gives us a few places to begin.

First: Be a good Christian to everyone, including other Christians.

Second: Approach conflict with Humility, Gentleness, and Patience.

Third: Bear with one another through love.

Frankly, I think the others will be covered if we all love to the very best of our ability. Love is not for the faint of heart, and it is easy to get wrong.

A final think that I think is worth mentioning is to pray for unity among Christians. This is something that I looked long and hard for a patron saint for, and after a long search, God led me to Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu, the patron of Ecumenism, whose feast day is April 22.

Pope St. John Paul II said in his encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint that Praying for unity is not a matter reserved only to those who actually experience the lack of unity among Christians. In the deep personal dialogue which each of us must carry on with the Lord in prayer, concern for unity cannot be absent. Only in this way, in fact, will that concern fully become part of the reality of our life and of the commitments we have taken on in the Church (Ut Unum Sint 27). Let us take this call to the Lord in prayer.

We see divisions among Christians, not unlike the divide between Jewish and Gentile Christians of the early church, and it grieves us. Let it be that the church might be more unified each day, a little at a time, so that one day, there will be only one flock with one shepherd. Help us to contribute to the reunion of all Christians by our prayer and our relationships with those of other denominations.

Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagghedu, pray for us!


PS - In case you didn’t know:

Beginning this week, for five weeks, we as a church will be reading through John 6 in the gospels. While I probably won’t be covering it in my reflections because I am focusing on the second readings this time around, I’d encourage you to take some time to study the next five weeks’ first readings and gospels to deepen your understanding of the Eucharist. (I know this because my parish is sponsoring a five-week bible study on the subject to go along with the Sunday gospel readings for the next five weeks, not because I’ve been reading ahead!)

PPS - Please continue to keep me in your prayers, my cold is getting better, but I am not well yet!

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