Church Unity

Church Unity

By Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB

John the Baptist in today’s Gospel reading, points to Jesus Christ saying, “…He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” It is through Baptism that we put on Christ and become members of the Body of Christ, the Church. St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians writes, “To the church of God, … to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. St. Paul prays for unity and peace among Christians. All those who are baptized in Christ, Catholic and non-Catholic, are united to each other in Christ. St. Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). But since the beginning of Christianity there have been misunderstandings and arguing, divisions and schisms. Sometimes those divisions have been reconciled, but at other times they have remained, even at times becoming deeper and more painful. These divisions are what prompted St. Paul to write to the Ephesians, “… lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). This admonition is still appropriate today as we encounter disharmony among Christians, even discord within the Catholic Church. From Saturday, 18 January (the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter) until 25 January (the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul) we invite you to pray with Christians around the world to pray for harmony and peace among all the baptized. Here is a prayer you might want to pray daily during the Church Unity Octave. God, giver of life, we thank you for the gift of your compassionate love which soothes and strengthens us. We pray that our churches may be always open to receive your gifts from one another. Grant us a spirit of generosity to all as we journey together in the path of Christian unity. We ask this in the name of your Son who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday’s Readings:

Isaiah 49.3, 5-6

Psalm 40

1 Corinthians 1.1-3

John 1.29-34