Strive for Unity

Homily for Friday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

If we look at the signs of the times, the picture can seem pretty bleak right now. We live in a country that seems so divided along so many different lines. If you drive down the road of any neighborhood in America, you’ll see Trump signs across the street from Biden signs. We’ve got people on one side saying “Defund the Police” and others saying “Back the Blue.” Others are seen screaming “Black Lives Matter” at those holding signs that say “All Lives Matter.” So many things happening that are causing such division in our country, in our local communities, in our Church. And so many of us are looking at all that is happening and wondering: “How are we going to overcome this?”

We get our answer today from our first reading. St. Paul tells the Christian community in Ephesus that they should embrace humility, gentleness, patience, and love in order to strive for peace and unity. Disagreement doesn’t mean we have to be divided. Disagreement doesn’t mean that we aren’t called to love those in our community with whom we disagree. When we allow disagreements to come between us as brothers and sisters in the faith, we are playing right into the Devil’s hands.

Division is the primary tactic of the Evil One. In fact, the word “devil,” comes from the Greek word diabolos, which is translated as the following: “to divide,” “to separate,” or more literally, “to throw against.” We can be assured, whenever we see division occur in our communities, especially when that division pits one group against another, we can affirm that the devil is somehow behind it. “He wants us to destroy ourselves and hatred against other people is one of the fastest ways we become the authors of our own demise.”[1]

But here’s the thing, we would “do well to recognize that, whatever our struggles with others, we all share a common enemy who seeks to divide and destroy us. As St Paul will later write in this same letter to the Ephesians: ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Eph 6:12). Feuding Brothers reconcile when there is a maniac at the door. But step one is notice the maniac, and then set aside our lesser divisions.”[2]

As Christians, we are called to be different. We are called to love one another even when we disagree. We are called to respect one another in the midst of a variety of opinions and to have constructive conversations that allow each of us to come to a mutual understanding of why we believe the things we do. Because only then can we live in that unity of the Spirit that St. Paul talks about. And, if we are called to be examples in the world, how can we promote unity and peace within our nation, if we can’t find unity and peace in our own Church?

We all have one thing in common that will never change: all of us are beloved sons and daughters of God, unified by our common faith in Jesus Christ. May we continue to remain focused on that fact. May we continue to strive for unity in our Church so that we can lead others to an encounter with the Lord and be those examples that promote civility and peace in our world.

[1] Philip Kosloski, “How division is a primary tactic of the devil,” Aleteia.

[2] Msgr. Charles Pope, “Four Common Tactics of the Devil,” Community in Mission.

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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