Unity in Love
Unity is always a struggle in any type of community – family, friendship, parish, the Church, workplace, and even religious community. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles is an example. The community didn’t know what to do with Saul who had been a vigorous persecutor to the followers of Jesus but now became a preacher of Christ.
The second reading and the Gospel also seem to focus on unity, but not unity on the outside but within. External unity has to come from unity within, our unity with God through the Word Incarnate: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty”. And according to the first letter of John, whoever keeps God’s commandments unites with God and God with them. God’s commandments are to believe in Jesus, God’s Son, and to love one another.
For us, Christians, to believe may be easier than to love. Perhaps, we all come from family situation, and know how challenging it is, at times, to love our own families, especially when they are so different to us, when they drive us nuts, when they hurt us in more than “seventy times seven” occasions. Unity seems to be a nice theory or ideology but far from reality.
When my dad was still alive (he passed away nearly four years ago) and struggling through the MND disease in the last three years of his life, he and I didn’t get along well from the outside. We argued a lot about what he could eat and drink, what he could and could not do for the day, how to make some sense of faith in such the situation he was in. Regardless of all that, one of the last moments of his earthly life, laying on the bed, he looked at me with glassy eyes as if he wanted to say that he loved me so much, but could not say it anymore.
Unity in reality can only be found, not in agreement, conformity or blind obedience to authority, but in love. Love, as someone rightly said, is a decision which is made by our whole being – heart, mind, soul, faith, hope and all else. It is, for me, like a commitment, meaning a journey, and the aim of this journey is union with those we have loved, moreover, with all creation and the Creator, our loving God.
Br Khoi msc