Sunday, March 24, 2013

Seeking Unity

Readings for March 24/ Passion (Palm) Sunday:
Luke 19:28-40
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Philippians 2:6-11
Luke 22:14-23:56

Each weekend throughout the year, outside of Lent and Advent, we profess our faith using the Nicene Creed, that ancient creed that powerfully and poetically speaks the core beliefs of the Catholic faith. At the end of that Creed we profess the four marks of the True Church – she is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. The marks are signs of the Church, but as members of that Church and all parts of the Body of Christ, we who are gathered here today must be instruments of unity in our world, but that unity must first come to rest in our hearts.

The Passion narrative that we hear today shows us exactly what can happen we when we fail to allow the seeds of unity to grow in our hearts and in their place sow the seeds of division. As Jesus is put on trial, we hear over and again on the lips of His accusers the claims of His blasphemy, how He breaks the Law of Moses, and lifts Himself up as God. But when do they speak of the thousands who were fed with a few loaves and fish? When do we hear of the many who found healing in body and spirit on account of His presence and prayers? When do they tell of how He brought others closer to God? We don’t. We don’t hear any of those things, because the accusers come against Jesus with only a part of the story – the part that makes Him out as a criminal, one opposed to the true faith of Judaism, as one deserving death. Rather than view the whole of Jesus’ life and ministry, they divide it up and bring forth the piece they want others to see. The Spirit of unity was not with them, but rather the spirit of division. And because of that, God was rejected by His own people, the innocent lamb was put to death.

If we listen to the media and the world around us, we hear so many voices speaking of division; divisions based on political ideals, race, culture, moral beliefs, age, class, even – and most regretfully – divisions in the Body of Christ, the Church. Rather than the seeking what can unite us and draw the good from everything, groups are pitted against one another and often by emphasizing only part of the picture. That division comes from one source, and one source only – the devil. The Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts by the grace of Baptism, but let us not forget that while He dwells in our hearts, the devil likes to make his dwelling in our ears to keep us from hearing the Spirit’s voice.

The unfortunate truth, though, is that too often we fall into rash judgment of another, we fall into gossip, we make assumptions and accusations, and highlight negative things about others. We let ourselves be content with half of the story, or emphasize the part that makes us feel better, and do this all at the expense of another in the same manner that the Jewish people told only part of the story of Jesus and end up creating more discord.

As we enter into this most holy of all weeks in the year, let us come before the Lord, who heals every division, and let His Precious Blood heal our hearts of the division that lies within them that we might indeed be the instrument of unity and truth that the Lord calls us to be. So we pray: Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ to heal those of our souls. Amen.