Year B: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: Ephesians 4: 1-6
Today’s reading from Ephesians restates the need for unity among believers - the writer uses the word “one” seven times in the last two sentences.
The qualities of the Christian echo those mentioned in the letter to the Colossians (chapter 3 verses 12-15) - from which much of the inspiration for this letter was derived. They are virtues which, if practised, should make the lives of Christians stand out from the crowd.
This is particularly so when we reflect on the ways in which Christians of different denominations have so often related one to another - and, sadly, in some places still do. Non-believers can look to our own Scriptures and challenge us - if this is what your Bible says, why don’t you act upon it? Some will see this as another stick with which to beat Christianity - but others, genuinely searching, may find the difference between what we preach and what we practise a serious obstacle to their embracing of Faith.
Christian churches, in general, now recognise the validity of all baptisms - taking seriously the one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We are members of the one Body, inspired by the same Spirit. This does not mean that our differences can be ignored - as has been stated before, it is often in dialogue and argument that the purpose of the Spirit can be identified. Rather it is to bring that sense of a deep unity in God to our prayer and discussion. If, alongside that, we add the practice of gentleness - patience and selflessness, that prayer and debate will be infused with a love and charity which may lead non-believers again to comment “These Christians - how they love one another”.
This is a serious issue, especially, perhaps, for young people. As Brother Roger, founder of the ecumenical monastic community of Taizé said: ”They live in a world where barriers are falling. They are getting ready for new ways of living and working.” For them, Christianity will be more credible when it is witnessed by people who no longer fear one another but who seek always to be reconciled.
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring