Scripture Reading: Galatians 3:28
On Saturday, 15th February, 2009, Benedict XVI (Pope Emeritus) addressed the Nigerian Bishops at the end of the Ad Limina visit (five-yearly visit) to Rome with these words
“The marvelous image of the new Jerusalem, the gathering of innumerable men and women from every tribe and tongue and people and nation who has been ransomed by the blood, encourages you to confront the challenge of ethnic conflict wherever present, even within the church there is no place in the church for any kind of division. Catechumen and neophytes must be taught to accept this truth as they make their commitment to Christ and to a life of Christian love. All believers, …will grow in maturity and generosity by allowing the gospel message to purify and overcome any possible narrowness of local perspectives.”
Some Christian communities are devastated by various forms of divisions, ranging from ethnic (indigenes vs strangers) to economic/social status (rich vs poor). These divisions project a contradictory image of our Christian communities. Whenever we become agents of division in our Christian community for whatsoever reason (s), we betray the love of Jesus; and working against the mind of Jesus. It is heart breaking to refuse or to fail to understand that the covenant of Calvary which we entered through the waters of regeneration (Baptism) sealed by the blood of Jesus destroyed the cultural barriers that make us strangers, for in Christ Jesus we become brothers and sisters in the Fatherhood of the Triune God. As today’s reading says, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Many of us have failed Jesus by allowing societal politics to destroy our oneness in Christ.
The devil has always continued to sow seed of discord and hatred among Christian communities. St. Paul resisted this devilish attempt to destroy the unity of the Christians in Corinth; “Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10- 13).
It was with pain that Benedict XVI asserted that; “There is, for instance the question of racial equality in America, which has had serious influence on Christianity there, since it is evident that the existence of a common confession of faith has done nothing to break down the wall of division.” Dear friends, if you have any regard for Jesus who called you, work for the unity of believers, avoid divisions, that is, all hostility among each other. Be of the same mind (the mind of Christ Jesus). Our agreement in fundamental things should extinguish all feuds and divisions about minor ones. Jesus wants us to be committed to building unity and love, to resist disunity and hatred, for we are one in Christ Jesus. If your pleasure is to create division and disunity in your community, be assured of God’s anger on the day you stand before him in judgement!
- Thank God for today’s reflection.
- Pray for God’s forgiveness for the times you have contributed to the disunity and hatred among believers in your community or elsewhere.
- Pray; let every spirit of disunity working against the church, your fellowship, your family, your office or place of work, let their works and missions be destroyed in Amen
- Pray this prayer; St. Francis prayer of peace:
Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life-in Jesus name – Amen.
Exercise: Always work for peace and unity among God’s family.
Memory Verse: Romans 12:5