Sunday after Ascension 13.5.18 Oneness
At the Last Supper Our Lord prayed especially for His disciples. He did not wish to exclude others, but He could see that to get His disciples into the right state, they would then go out to bring others into the light.
They would be the leaven in the bread, the light on the hill, the flock where the sheep are gathered. And this would in turn attract people to join.
The Church has to look inwards first, and then outwards. Inwards to make sure we have the right beliefs and behaviour. Outwards to share the reality of salvation with the rest of the world.
The ‘inwards’ part requires constant prayer and reflection. The ‘outwards’ part will succeed only if we have the inwards right.
The Church offers people eternal life; it is a precious possession, but not usually valued by those to whom it is offered. It is a gift that takes a certain amount of absorbing before we appreciate it fully.
We offer the gift on two fronts: true teaching, and charity in action. The right theory and the right practice.
The teaching is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, who makes known to us all the essential points of faith and morals.
The Church alone has the authority to teach in God's name, a useful thing to know in a world of so much confusion and falsehood.
As to charity, this is always the most important quality to get right. We get along together, as in today’s epistle: But before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins. (1 P 4,8).
This is necessary for its own sake, that we should love one another regardless of any other circumstance, because God loved us first. If we refuse to love someone we are disagreeing with God, who does love that person. (Love does not mean sentimental attachment, but a desire for the other person to receive whatever God wants them to have.)
And charity is necessary if we are going to attract people to the Church. They must see in the life of the Church something they do not see anywhere else. If they see us fighting it will make it harder for them to be convinced that they should join us.
The early Church did show a strong face to the world and won many converts. People wanted to get in, as they always do when they can perceive an improvement in their situation.
United in faith and charity, belief and action. This is what we need and what we seek.
People will say I believe in Jesus but not the Church… this does not work.
We cannot have the head without the body. We must accept all that the Church believes and teaches.
If we are separate from the Church it must mean there is something in one’s thinking or behaviour which is not submissive to the Holy Spirit; to that extent the person needs correction, healing and purifying. They are not necessarily bad people but they are not yet fully arrived at where they need to be.
So the word goes out. Individuals will come, or not, as they respond to the graces offered them. We have to help them to make the right choice, by our prayer and example.
Our prayer in this Pentecost week is that people everywhere will become disciples of Christ, and join us in the one Church.
May the Holy Spirit make us truly one, and effective in helping all those outside find their way inside.