Read this week's message from Father Don
“United we stand, divided we fall.” This old saying is a useful reminder for us who live in a church that includes countless different Catholic organizations each with their own programs and initiatives.
Working together is not common in the contemporary church. Parishes seldom cooperate on joint pastoral initiatives and apostolic movements likewise. Even within parishes, it is difficult to get the various organizations to commit to a common goal and pastoral plan.
Toward the end of his life Jesus prayed for the church in these words “Father, may they all be one. As you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17.23). The unity for which Jesus prayed included not only a shared faith in himself but a willingness to work together for the building of his kingdom. It was a practical unity that would allow the Church to carry out the mission Jesus had entrusted to it. Teamwork and cooperation are essential to the unity Jesus envisioned.
People are all different. They have different cultures and languages, personalities and preferences. That is the reality of human life. It is not, however, intended to be the reality of the church Jesus established, in which, as St Paul observed, “there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28). In other words, the church is not to be divided into human categories but united in the one Lord.
Throughout its history the Church has struggled to live out Jesus’ call to unity. Often there have developed factions in the Church. Catholics have been divided by nationality, spirituality, political ambition and so many other human factors. This has gravely impeded its capacity to build the Kingdom of God.
In our present age where anti-Christian hostility is widespread, there is a particular urgency for Catholics to surrender their personal preferences and learn how to work together. This will require humility on the part of all Catholics and a willingness to let go of “their way” in order to be transformed by Christ’s way. The Holy Spirit wants to draw us together so we can present a united front in addressing the challenges of secularism and a united missionary effort to bring Jesus to those who need him.