Unity in the Love of Christ
Our first reading and gospel today recount unfortunate stories in which people are performing good works in the name of God and yet are looked down upon because they do not belong to the “correct group.” How often do we do this today as fellow Christians? There are two key points that Catholics especially must keep in mind. First, we should rejoice when we see our Christian brothers and sisters in other communities doing the works of God and loving Jesus. This is a good thing! Too often we look down on our separated brothers and sisters because they’re not “one of us.” This division is a scandal and not recognizing the good that exists even outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church adds to the scandal.
However, secondly, we must also avoid falling into the trap of thinking that it doesn’t matter which church you happen to go to. Jesus really did found one Church and wants everyone to be a part of it. He really did give us leaders that he promised to guide and protect from error because he knew that was the only way we would be able to remain unified. He really did want us to have the Eucharist and the other Sacraments. He really does want everyone to be Catholic. While the Church does not have a monopoly on the truth, only the Catholic Church has everything that Jesus intended his Church to have, the “fullness” of the truth. It would be very offensive to Jesus to pretend that none of this really matters.
The challenge is to hold both of these points together at once, and to do it with love. The fact that as Catholics we have the fullness of truth doesn’t mean that we use it very well and it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot we can learn from our separated brothers and sisters. We should desire that everyone would be Catholic, but we should desire this from a knowledge that we love our brothers and sisters and want to share with them all the good things that Jesus wants them to have. There is no room for a triumphalist “I’m better than you” attitude in the Church. Let us thank God for the beautiful faith we see all around us, even outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church, and let us work as Jesus prayed, “That all may be one.” Let us share the truth with love.