Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Thursday of the 7th Week of Easter (Year 1)
May 28, 2009

*Today's Readings:*
Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Ps 16:1-2a, 5, 7-11
Luke 17:20-26


*What is required to answer the prayer of Jesus?*

After I became Catholic in 1977, I read today's Gospel passage and said, "Wow Jesus, your prayer is taking a long time to get answered! The number of break-away denominations just keep multiplying." And seeing divisive behavior within the Catholic Church, I've said, "Wow
Jesus, your prayer isn't even being answered here!"

Or maybe I was just looking for the answer in the wrong places. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning", and that unity "subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose" (see para. 820). It's a gift. It's not something that we make happen; it's already ours. "But the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her."

The unity we have in the Catholic Church comes from accepting that Christ is the head and that he chose to lead us through Saint Peter and all the popes and bishops who came from his line of ordination; despite their imperfections and sins. Our unity comes from the Church Magisterium's protection of and explanations of the teachings of Christ, and if we choose to remain in unity with Christ by learning from the Magisterium, Jesus protects us from false teachings and worldly compromises.

We divide ourselves from the Church when we disregard or misuse Church teachings. Every teaching issued by the Magisterium has love as its goal and scripture as its foundation. More often than not, however, when we reject them, it's not to be divisive; it's simply because we don't understand their value. The most common example of this is the teaching against using artificial birth control. Many Catholics disregard it, because they fail to research it enough to discover how it enhances their ability to love, which includes, if we want to be Christ-like, self-sacrifice.

What about the ways that Catholics are divided from Protestants? Can Christ's prayer be answered even while we're divided from one another in worship and in doctrinal issues? Yes! Unity does not mean "agreement." His prayer is answered in the way we LOVE one another. As it says in the Catechism, para. 815, the bond of unity is the love that "binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col. 3:14)". Harmony isn't accomplished by everyone singing the same notes. Harmony requires diversity in mutual service under the guidance of the Music Director. And you know, Catholics and Protestants have the same Music Director!

See also the Good News WordByte on Pope Benedict's desire for unity (2005):

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
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