The Second reading at Mass on Sunday comes from Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
In it Paul asserts that in Christ, through faith in and baptism into Christ, all Christians are one in Christ.
You are, all of you, sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. All baptised in Christ, you have all clothed yourselves in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Merely by belonging to Christ you are the posterity of Abraham, the heirs he was promised.
That unity takes on a particular somatic, ontological force through the sacrament of baptism. But in Christ we see all people, baptised or not, Christian, Muslim, Jew, humanist and atheist as one. They may not consider they have anything to unite them with each other or us, but we are to see them as Christ, and all of them as children of the Father. Paul traces the unity back to Abraham: and well he might he is speaking to Jews anxious for their patrimony and spiritual heritage. But the Jewish scriptures point to other common sources – Adam and Eve, obviously, but also the family of Noah, from whom, after flood, ALL the nations of the world are derived.
The story of the flood and the sign of the rainbow given as sign of the covenant and God’s abiding commitment to his people, also contains within it signs of the disintegration and pain that can follow when we fail to respect our unity and live as family.
Unity is something to strive for, the good of others something to work for. Security and well-being are fragile possessions – especially when they are not shared. We learn that from what follows in Genesis, and after Galatians! And for those with eyes to see we see and learn it from current events too.
For a careful reflective piece on living together, careful of the Common Good, read Alex Massie’s Spectator blog, This day of infamy, written after the murder of Jo Cox, MP.
When you encourage rage you cannot then feign surprise when people become enraged. You cannot turn around and say, ‘Mate, you weren’t supposed to take it so seriously. It’s just a game, just a ploy, a strategy for winning votes.’
When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks. When you present politics as a matter of life and death, as a question of national survival, don’t be surprised if someone takes you at your word. You didn’t make them do it, no, but you didn’t do much to stop it either.
Sometimes rhetoric has consequences. If you spend days, weeks, months, years telling people they are under threat, that their country has been stolen from them, that they have been betrayed and sold down the river, that their birthright has been pilfered, that their problem is they’re too slow to realise any of this is happening, that their problem is they’re not sufficiently mad as hell, then at some point, in some place, something or someone is going to snap. And then something terrible is going to happen.
Crosses in Westminster Cathedral Gift Shop. (c) 2009, Allen Morris