This Thursday, January 25th, is the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul — the patron saint of our local church and of our capital city. This date also marks the last day of the annual observance of prayer for Christian unity.
The great scandal of the church is the disunity within the body of Christ. The unity of the church is to call all people to faith in Jesus Christ. “I pray that they all be one, as you Father are in me and I am in you, that they may be one in us, that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Christian unity is not found in words, but in deeds. The partnership of believers in Jesus Christ, even though divided, is the way that Christian unity can come about.
Churches of various denominations, cooperating with each other in the works of the Gospel, are what build that unity. When we work together and get to know each other, we come to realize that there is more that unites us than divides us.
In the aftermath of Vatican Council II, there was much effort to mobilize interfaith, ecumenical efforts. In the Twin Cities, there were “Living Room Dialogues”. A few Catholics and Lutherans or Methodists or Baptists would come together in each other’s homes and share prayer, speak about their faith, get to know and respect the genuine faith in Jesus Christ which each held dear.
Church unity is built from the bottom up. Don’t wait for Church hierarchies to take the lead. The beginning happens by the grace of the Holy Spirit in neighborhoods and between family members, especially in families where parents are of mixed religious traditions.
This month as we reflect on the mission of our parish community, let us not forget to commit to the work of Christian unity.
Fr. Steve Adrian