Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Unity of the Church

Each Sunday we profess faith in ONE, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. But sadly, I wonder if we have not simply given up on the idea of real unity. On the global level we see the church divided into innumerable “denominations.” And even inside the Catholic Church we see those who should be leaders acting as if they are members of political parties.  On the local level, we see parishes internally divided along ethnic lines. As what had been minority language groups grow and become majorities, struggles for power consume communities, and it becomes at best two churches sharing one building. We hear the cry, “They have taken over our church.”

How far we have drifted from our roots. The Acts of the Apostles tells us:

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.

As we read the Acts of the Apostles, we are reminded that the Church is never “my Church” or even “our Church.” The Church was established by Christ and is exclusively “His Church.”  The Church is His Body. You and I by baptism have the privilege of being members, but it remains His Body. There is, as St. Paul told the Ephesians, 

one Lord, one faith, one baptism.

In John 21 we are told that it was Peter who hauled the net ashore and the net was not torn. In two millennia we have torn it to shreds. But we can also mend it. 

It starts in the heart of the indivual believer. It starts in the local “community of the Christian Faithful” we call a parish. Each of us must make a through examination of our minds and hearts to root out any seeds of division.  Unity does not mean sameness. There will always be groups with different spiritualities, languages, and areas of focus in ministry. But unity must mean more than mutual toleration. There must be true respect and communication that is essential to community. 

Let us not only pray for global unity in the Church, but let us work for unity in our communities.