Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Jesus shares his dream for the Church today in the Gospel when he says, “so that they may be one.” I say dream, rather than a command, because unity is a gift God desired for the Church to have. The Church’s unity is the means by which we participate in the divine life of God. The Catechism offers three spiritual rationales for the causes of unity in the Church: because of her source, her founder, and her soul.
The Church is one because of her source: The Trinity is an expression of the unity of relationships between 3 divine Persons being one God. From the connections between Christians across the world, we form one Church dedicated to the mission of Christ in the world.
The Church is one because of her founder: Jesus reconciled the world to God through his passion that all women and men may have eternal life. In this way, Jesus was and continues to be the prince of peace.
The Church is one because of her soul: the Holy Spirit’s presence continues to gather the Church from the nations, and the diversity of cultures and gifts people have enriches this communion.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 813)
When speaking about Christian unity, it is hard to not come off as idealistic. The Church has its struggles to its unity: on a macro level, and also what we encounter in our local faith communities. The Church will always struggle to be one because unity is not something within our human abilities to bring into existence. It is a gift we receive from God. All we are able to do is to be open to receive the spirit that gathers and heals the divisions within our hearts, which makes us fit to be reconcilers in the world. When we find our communities fractured, or unwillingness on our part not to listen and engage with others, we need to ask how we have become disconnected from the source, the founder, and the soul of our Christian unity.
How have I experienced the unity of the Church in my life? Do I see it as a gift? What is a challenge I see to participating in the Church, either within myself or in my faith community?