In praying to the Holy Spirit, as we do more with more intensity on Pentecost, one of the gifts we should long for is the unity of the Church. And it’s a very timely petition.
When the Spirit descended upon the Apostles on that first Pentecost, he brought them together in a new and marvelous unity, so much so that we sometimes refer to Pentecost as the “Birthday of the Church.” It’s true that Jesus, in his divine wisdom, established the Church as a source and sign of salvation. But it was the Holy Spirit who perfected, sealed and “confirmed” that unity on Pentecost Day.
When I think about the Church these days, two conflicting images come to mind: the first is a merry-go-round in a children’s playground; and the other, a beautiful mosaic. As a merry-go-round spins faster and faster, the riders often fly off by themselves in different directions. In a mosaic, however, the individual pieces of the image, while maintaining their own identity, come together to form a picture larger and more beautiful than themselves alone.
Sometimes the Church today seems like a merry-go-round, with everyone losing grip and flying off, still clutching tightly to their own demands and agendas. But it should be more like a mosaic – many individual members, each with their own gifts and talents, coming together to form an impressive image. And the glue that holds all this together? The Holy Spirit!
The unity of the Church is essential for several reasons. First, it makes our ministry and mission more effective. We accomplish a lot more when we’re working together with a common purpose, rather than fighting among ourselves. Second, it enables us to give a better witness of faith to the world. Jesus prayed for the unity of the Church, “so that the world may believe.” (Jn 17: 21) And third, our unity is important because Jesus died on the Cross to bring us together, to reconcile us to God and to one another. The Church is the Body of Christ and thus sins against the Church are sins against Christ himself.
Without a doubt, the Church today needs to be purified and renewed, and one of the sure signs that the renewal is taking place is our unity. Pray, then, to the Holy Spirit for the unity of the Church.
Something to think about: When you think about the future of the Church are you optimistic or pessimistic?