The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, spoke of the profound unity between Christians, by virtue of their faith and baptism.
That unity is deeper, more real, than any differences. Once these differences were used to distinguish one group against the other – and some still see them as that significance – but they are wrong, says Paul.
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. Galatians 3:26-29
A unity more real than any differences and distinctions?
The ancient words of Paul – potent in their contemporary significance – this week will for many people have resonated have resonated with newly familiar words spoken just a year ago by Jo Cox MP, the recently murdered MP, in her maiden speech in the House of Commons.
Batley and Spen is a gathering of typically independent, no-nonsense and proud Yorkshire towns and villages. Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.
From the maiden speech of Jo Cox, MP for the constituency of Batley and Spen, 3rd June 2015.
The human family is enriched by all sorts of difference and variety. These features are sometimes exploited to divide and separate people, even to set one community against others.
Saint Paul and Jo Cox may attribute the reasons for unity deeper than difference, but they too are maybe more different than opposed; more complementary than different.
- What binds you to others who are different to you? How can you fruitfully cooperate with these?
- What forces seek to separate you from them? How can you work to frustrate them? And rise above that which contradicts God’s will?
Window from parish church of Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris