(Part 16)


December 18, 2016

Today’s reading:  Romans 1:1-7

Unity is not a matter of belonging to one organization or to one Church. In fact, through the centuries in the history of salvation, these entities have been characterized by disunity and strife. Did not Jesus himself say that he came to bring not peace but division? Such division is due to the opposing responses to Jesus and his work. In the Church and Christian communities, the cause of disunity is often disagreements on how to serve God.

How then can we truly be one in Christ? Paul’s greeting to the Romans gives us the basic elements involved. Paul’s greeting might as well be addressed to us. What makes for unity? We look at four elements.

First, Paul considers himself “a slave of Christ Jesus” (v.1a). We are united as we look to the one Master. If we are all his slaves, then we do nothing according to any personal agenda or preference. Then we simply do what Jesus tells us to do. As Christ is not divided, then we too will be united–in vision, in mission, in the one work. Thus we are among those “who are called to belong to Christ Jesus” (v.6).

Second, Paul says he is “called to be an apostle” (v.1b). Our Church is a missionary Church. We are among those who are sent. When we do mission we engage in spiritual warfare. Disunity comes when we lose our focus on the one enemy. Disunity comes when we are not fully engaged in the work of mission. Then we are just looking at each other and finding fault and considering each other as the enemy. Unity comes when we are clear about our calling, and that “through him we have received the grace of apostleship” (v.5a).

Third, Paul says he is “set apart for the gospel of God” (v.1c). CFC-FFL is an evangelistic and missionary community. LCSC is intended to mainstream Catholic lay evangelization, attempting to reach the 99 lost sheep. It is our basic task to proclaim the gospel, so people can meet Christ and move on to live Christ and share Christ. This is the most important work in the Church. This is the final commission of Jesus to all his disciples. All other problems in the world (war, poverty, corruption, criminality, environmental degradation, etc.) can only be truly resolved if there is conversion in the hearts of people. And such conversion is the intent of evangelization. We are united if we see our task clearly, and that is “to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles” (v.5b).

Fourth, Paul addresses “all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy” (v.7a). We are called to be holy as God is holy. We are to live lives of purity and integrity. We are set apart to serve God and the Church. We are to be other Christs. If we live like Christ, if we are Christ to one another, if we are merciful as God is merciful, then we will be one in Christ. How can it be otherwise?

The keys to unity? Being holy servants and holy warriors.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (v.7b).

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