Five Times One = One
Twenty-Ninth Week of Year II Friday October 21, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm pinpoints the desire that shapes and motivates the Church: “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face” (Psalm 24).
Ephesians 4: 1-6 describes the principle characteristic of a life that is “worthy of the calling we have received.” It is a striving toward unity and peace. As “stewards of the reign of God,” we are charged to “make every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This is the guiding goal of our efforts, the animating and restraining force in our efforts to transform Church, culture and world. Why is this?
The truth of Christ’s Church is that there are five “one’s”: one body, one spirit, one common hope, one Lord, one faith and one Baptism. That is a pretty strong foundation for unity! And the ultimate source of it is the Father. We are all children of the one Father of Jesus who is “over all, works through all, and is in all.”
It all goes back to the Father. Jesus came to make his “name,” his person, known and loved throughout the world. This was his first priority in prayer: “Father, hallowed be your name!” It is how Jesus summed up his work: “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.” He came that we might “have life, and have it to the full,” and he said the fullness of life is found in knowing the Father: “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” No wonder we describe ourselves as “the people that longs to see your face.”1 If this is our over-riding desire, and we recognize it in one another, nothing can deeply divide us.
Stewards are responsible for using well what is entrusted to them; for example, common sense and the ability to read the “signs of the times.” In Luke 12: 54-59 Jesus accuses his people of hypocrisy because they know how to read the signs of impending weather, but pretend they do not “know how to interpret the present time.” To those stuck in blind party loyalties he says, “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”
One of the clearest “signs of the times” in our day is the Spirit moving Christians to pray and worship together, to share their experiences of God and acknowledge the faith they hold in common before focusing on their differences — “making every effort to preserve [or restore] the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It is time to step out of the box of our cultural assumptions and begin to “judge for ourselves what is right” with open eyes as a people that longs to see God’s face in everyone we meet. We will find in those we think are different an amazing unity of shared faith, common hope and divine love. Expressing, experiencing and acknowledging that unity should be the starting point of all our dealings with one another.
1Matthew 6:9; John 17: 6, 3; 10:10; 12:28.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Look for signs of grace in everyone.