I just returned from Germany and France. I have been very blessed in my life to have the opportunity to travel much more that most people. But with every trip I come home to the U.S. and I remember that it was by sheer providence that I was born here. I would guess that most people reading this are like me. We did absolutely nothing to earn our citizenship. Many of us received our Christianity in much the same way. We grew up in families, where our parents, however imperfectly, instilled in us the rudimentary aspects of the Christian faith. We have never had to live through real persecution. We have never had to work for any of. My U.S. citizenship and my Christianity came as free gifts. The danger with gifts is that we can be unappreciative.
I look around my Church and my nation, and I worry more that ever. Our capacity for civil discourse and debate have vanished. We are the Saducees and the Pharisees in the first reading simply screaming at each other. The saddest part is that we are being torn apart not by someone or something outside. We are doing it to ourselves.
During the Easter season the Church has us read from St. John’s gospel. In it, the center of Jesus’s final prayer is “that they may be one.” He knew well that the moment he ascended the in-fighting would begin. To combat it he sent the Holy Spirit. As Pentecost approaches it is time for us to pray for our Church and our nation. In both we who call ourselves Christian have a great opportunity to show the rest of the world what makes us different. With the help of the Holy Spirit each of us can choose to not be part of the screaming match. We can show by our example that it is possible to disagree and yet love one another.
Yes, I know how corny that sounds. Bur is it not the Christian way.