Healing Divisions

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Is 8:23 – 9:3; Math 4: 12-23

Dc. Larry Brockman


Divisions!  That’s what St. Paul experienced after he founded the Church in Corinth, people who held on tight to some details of what they believed and gravitated to one or another principal advocate rather than focusing on belief in their hearts in Jesus message.  Yes, Divisions occurred right from the very beginning.   

Isn’t it sad that there are so many Christians today, and yet, we are all divided into different denominations?  And rather than build on what we believe in common, some of those denominations tear the others down.  The Catholics seem to be on the receiving end of that quite a bit.  How many times do you hear some of our Protestant brothers telling the whole world that unless you accept Jesus as your personal savior, you cannot be saved.  And then in the next breath, they attack the Catholics who they say put more faith in tradition than in the Bible.  Many of them say we are damned.   

And yet, when these people sit down and talk with us, they find much common ground.  For example, there are things that are basics that we all agree on- these are our Christian foundations.  Some of these things are the belief in one God, the Trinity, and the other elements of the Creed.  And most Christians denominations respect and believe in the sanctity of the word of God- the Bible; they also believe we need to honor God’s natural law, that is, respect the sanctity of all life from womb to tomb.   

Yet even within our parishes, there are divisions.  People feel passionately about Emmaus or Cursillo or the Carmelites or this prayer group or that prayer group; and seem be put off and even hostile to people who are passionate about one of these other movements.  They sing praises for the Knights of Columbus and are ambivalent about the Men’s Club or vice versa.  Some say the only answer is meditative prayer; others concentrate on loving as Jesus taught by living in the world so that they use their God given talents; still others believe we need to love our neighbors as ourselves through social justice- that that should be the key to everything we do.   

The truth is that we need all of these Christian expressions, and even more.   We need to build each other up and not tear each other down.  Rather than harp on the differences between us; we need to emphasize the common ground, and we need to rejoice in the diversity of ways that we serve and praise God, not emphasize one over the other.   

There are plenty of ways for us to do that.  First, with respect to our Protestant brothers, we need to build on these common beliefs by working together.  I am encouraged, for example, by the Chaplain at Westminster Towers who invited me as a Catholic to come into their Presbyterian run institution and conduct  Communion services and Rosary Services there for the Catholic Residents.  And now, several times a year, I am invited to preach at their ecumenical service.  After preaching there, the Protestants have told me how much they appreciated my message, and that they didn’t know Catholics believed all that!  Such services are a great way to build bridges, not build divisions.  All of you know and interact with many other Christians.  Don’t shy away from discussions with them; rather, encourage dialog with a kind and knowing heart.  The Bible and the Catechism are our best ways to be informed and relevant in such dialog.     

Similarly, try to engage in joint activities with people of other faiths, perhaps by inviting people here for some of our events.  For example, we arranged a field trip to bring people from Westminster Towers to see the Eucharistic Miracles Exhibit.  Some of the Protestants who came told me they will never forget that experience.  In the last several years, our Parish has been proactive at inviting our fellow Christians to The Fall Festival, our Lenten Fish Fries, and our Music Concerts.  I have shared the fish fry meals with Presbyterians, Methodists, and others from neighboring Churches; and I think the dialog has been productive and healthy.  Other examples include our 40 days for Life; the St. Augustine March for Life, where we arranged for a bus; and the Life Chain along Apopka Vineland- all of these open to anyone.   

These are modest first steps in our challenge to be evangelical and ecumenical as Christians so that we can reestablish unity amongst Christians.  In this day and age, when mainline Faiths like Christianity are under attack from secular society to eliminate school prayer; eliminate the use of the bible, and secularize Chaplaincies, we need much more efforts like these to unify us.   

But we also need to be more active inside our walls, glorifying and appreciating the wonderful diversity of ministries that folks can participate in here.  We can do that by knowing the wealth and breadth of the ministries available; and by more participation ourselves.   

You know, it is common wisdom that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.  If we are going to make a difference, we need to change that.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus taps a few good common men on the shoulder, and tells them to follow him.  If these few could make such a tremendous difference; think what all of us can do together.  If we all work together, and that means all of us, not just some of us, we can make a tremendous difference.   

We can eliminate Divisions, and convert the world by our example of knowing, loving, and working for Jesus;  But not just some of us, all of us. 


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