Today, as we stand on the threshold of Holy Week, in which we will make that saving death present in our own time, it is helpful to reflect both on the unity which God Himself prays for throughout the Bible (e.g., “. . . that they all may be one, as you Father in Me, and I in You . . . that the world may believe . . .”) and on the emphasis throughout on a people, not just individuals.
Our history makes abundantly clear that we humans are irreversibly divisive – “we” and “them” in a thousand different guises. It’s embedded in our natures. Thus, clearly, the unity God desires has to be God’s own work. We ourselves can’t do it without being transformed, without being a new creation, without the life that God gives us in baptism – all of which we will re-actualize next Saturday at the Easter vigil. Can we believe it? Dare we believe it?
As Christians, as disciples of Jesus, unity – unity within families, unity within nations, unity between nations, unity between churches, and unity within churches – must be our first priority. It can’t be left to someone else. It’s not that there are no differences – “Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female”. There are indeed differences. But, “all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). The differences don’t matter in God’s eyes. God clearly enough sees the flaws that we see in one another, in one group or another, in one religion or another – the flaws that seem to us to block our becoming one. God sees them too. God loves us all anyway. That’s the ultimate basis for unity – a people loved by God. We’re all one around the table of the Lord. We’re all invited to the feast. “We” just have to be willing to sit down with “them”.
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