Diversity in Unity 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time Year A

Diversity in Unity 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time Year A

Isaiah 8:23-9:3; Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23

            In today’s second reading St Paul urges his brothers and sisters in Christ that “there be no divisions among you”, that we are “united in the same mind”. These words are to be interpreted by what St. Paul writes in a later chapter, chapter twelve where he teaches that we have been baptized into the one body of Christ. As a body of Christ we are to think with the mind of Christ, and love with the heart of Christ. The more each of us thinks with the mind of Jesus, feel with his feelings, and love with his heart the more we will be in unity with one another, a unity that is respectful of diversity.

            Since Christ is the second person of the Trinity St. Paul is not teaching that our unity as a body of Christ is opposed to diversity. St. Paul is not teaching that we are to live out our unity in a monolithic sense. The word monolithic is based on two Greek words monos meaning single, or alone and lithos meaning stone. It is erroneous to think that God is one like a rock is one. This is because God is Triune; God is a communion of persons; God is family.

            As a Catholic family we are to pattern our unity on the unity of God where genuine difference brings about greater unity and not less. This means we are to avoid two errors identified by our Holy Father, Pope Francis: “unity without diversity” and “diversity without unity”. [1]

            In today’s second reading, St. Paul identifies Corinthian Christians who were seeking diversity without unity. Some said “I belong to Paul” but not to Peter’s group. In opposition to the group of Paul, others were saying “I belong Peter” but not to Paul’s group. Still others were saying “I belong to Christ” as if belonging to Christ meant not belonging to Paul and not belonging to Peter’s group.

            Being a true follower of Christ entails belonging to all followers of Christ since by our Baptism we are members of one body, the body of Christ. Every time we receive the Eucharist, every time we receive the body of Christ, Jesus wants to deepen our communion with Him and through him our unity with one another. This means, that those who love even the Pope, the successor of Peter, are not to love the Pope so much that they then look down and reject others in the body of Christ. 

This, as Brant Pitre comments, would be falling into the error that St. Paul identifies where people loved Peter the first Pope so much that they claimed they were not followers of St. Paul or even, possibly of Christ. Proper love of Peter, the first Pope, and proper love of all Popes who follow Peter including our Holy Father Pope Francis is distinguished by seeking to be in communion through the Holy Father, who is Christ’s representative on earth, with all the members of Christ’s body, the Church.[2]

Similarly, loving another Catholic leader so much that we reject the authority of the Pope is also an error as is the error of claiming to be only a follower of Christ but not a follower of the Pope or any bishop. As Jesus taught to his Apostles, the first bishops, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me (Luke 10:16 RSVCE).”

Today, borrowing words from Benedict XVI, may we “raise our heads above the waters of time”[3]. With heads raised above the everchanging waters of time, may we identify currents that influence us, that move us and which move us in directions that do not lead us to the eternal shores of heaven where a perfectly united diverse Holy people in joy sing praise to God.

United in the Lord Jesus,

Fr Peter

The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., “Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)m Allerheiligenbild (“Landauer Altar”),” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_003.png

Web Gallery of Art:  Inkscape.svg Image Information icon.svg Info about artwork, “Carlo Dolci – The Holy Family with God the Father and the Holy Spirit – WGA0637,” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carlo_Dolci_-_The_Holy_Family_with_God_the_Father_and_the_Holy_Spirit_-_WGA06376.jpg

[1] Brian Y. Lee, and Thomas L. Knoebel, (eds), Discovering Pope Francis: The Roots of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s Thinking (Collegeville: Liturgical Press Academic, 2019), Kindle Location 2395. From chapter five, The Polarity Model: The Influences of Gaston Fessard and Romano Guardini on Jorge Mario Bergoglio, by Massimo Borghesi.

[2] Brant Pitre, “The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A),” catholicproductions.com.

[3] Benedict XVI, Dogma and Preaching: Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life, trans. Michael J. Miller (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011), 346.

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