Into today's Gospel we hear the great prayer of Jesus, "That they may be one."
Thirty-four years ago I made the choice to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. After much study, prayer and reflection, I came to believe what the Church teaches. That Jesus established only one Church, as the apostles creed, recited by many churches confirms. That one Church "subsists in" the Catholic Church.
At Vatican II they very carefully chose the word "subsists in" as opposed to "is." There were those who wanted to draw a bright line and say that the Catholic Church is the Church. The Catholic Church says something more nuanced.
There are two extremes that are equally mistaken. One says "Only the members of the Catholic Church are saved." The other extreme says "Any group that calls itself a church is an equally good path to salvation". If we believe that there is any such thing as the truth, then some things are true and some are not. Not ever statement made by every person who calls themselves a minister can be equally true. That defies reason.
As Catholics we believe that there are some essential elements which were established by Christ himself, and to the extent that the essentials are present, the Church is present in any ecclesial community. By the way, the term ecclesial community is not derogatory. It acknowledges that there are some Christians who call themselves something other than a church, for example the Imani Temple in DC.
For myself, the deeper I delve into the scriptures, the more certain I become that Jesus did give the Church a shape. He gave her sacraments. He have her certain undeniable truths to teach. Our Catholic faith is unquestionably rooted in the scriptures. We are a Bible based faith.
At the same time, our understanding of Jesus and the Church only deepens in dialogue with other believers who interpret the scriptures differently. We should not be afraid to enter into the conversation. We should not simply accept the status quo. The one thing hopefully all Christians can agree on is that Jesus never intended for his followers to be divvied as we are today.
Ίνα ωσιν εν - ina osin en- three Greek words from Jn 17:11- That they may be one. As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost and the outpouring of the one Holy Spirit, may we pray for that Spirit to draw into a closer unity, the unity Jesus intended, the unity Jesus established.