With an important presidential election less than one week away, politics seems to be on everyone’s mind. Regardless of how the election turns out, with the polls running as close as they are, it is quite obvious that our country is divided -- almost 50/50 -- in its political views.
And the division in our country doesn’t just run along political lines. It seems to directly parallel the division in the US Catholic Church. Read the following article from Our Sunday Visitor, to see what I mean: “Why pro-life and social justice Catholics are increasingly at odds: Pick-and-choose approach to Church teaching on each side appears to be at heart of political divide.”
Imagine how God must view this division among his children. Consider the following scripture passage from Jesus at the Last Supper, the night before he died for us: Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, just as we are.(John 17:11.)
At Mass we are reading from Ephesians. On the Friday, October 26, 2012, St. Paul exhorted church members to:
… live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.(Ephesians 4: 1-6)
This early Church father points out that we are Christ’s Body. And we are also his Bride. In the 5th chapter of Ephesians, Paul uses the great marriage analogy to illustrate how the Church is called to live in unity with one another. (The late John Paul II, in his groundbreaking Theology of the Body, called Ephesians 5 the “Summa,” or summary, of the entire Gospel.) In this passage, which we read at Mass Oct. 30, 2012, Paul discusses how the loving relationship of husband and wife symbolizes Christ’s relationship to his Church. Ephesians 5 begins with the line: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
We reveal God’s image, not just because we are rational beings, but because we are called to “communion” with others. As the Trinity is an eternal exchange of love – one God in three persons – we are called to love each other and to be one in the Holy Spirit.
Of late, however, we seem to be moving toward nothing but division.
Interestingly, this is how our country began. Consider this passage from the US Declaration of Independence: "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
Our Church could learn a lot from this document. Do we, with all our differences of opinion and preferences for this or that teaching of our Church, have a “decent respect for the opinions” of all those in our Church, and do we allow each other to “declare” the reasons why we disagree? Are we even listening to one another?
During one of the classes I took to at the Theology of the Body Institute, I remember the instructor saying the root meaning of the word “diabolic” is “to fracture.” I did a little research for the roots of this word on the Internet. I found that the Greek meaning of dia is “apart” and bolic is “that which is thrown.” So, roughly translated, the term diabolic means “that which is thrown apart.”
Since the beginning, the ruler of this world, Satan, has been working to break humanity apart – to sew division between man and woman, between family members, in social and cultural life and, yes, even in our Church. Our divided Church is not what God wants us to be.
We should take a lesson from the headline of a news article concerning the current Bishop’s Synod taking place in Europe. “Above all, we must convert ourselves to Christ.” We need to quit pointing fingers and casting blame. And quit worrying about changing the opinions of others. The Truth will ultimately be revealed. What we really need to worry about is how well we, the Body of Christ, with all its members, love and respect each other, inside and outside our Church. And ask Christ to heal our divisions.