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Father Muench Says...

Heal divisions by loving one another

November 18, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I have a concern today. It’s a concern that is a true need for our Church. I think of this often. In fact, I write of this often. It truly seems to be a real concern for me at this time. You and I are now caught in this pandemic that demands that we keep our distance from each other. However, I believe that our Church need and demands a way, a new way for us Catholics to draw together. We need ways for us to be community, to be a family, even though we must keep our spacing.

Our Church has developed huge divisions within our ranks. These divisions are not because of the demands of the pandemic, but rather so many other factors – factors of faith that separate us. These are not good for us. I believe we must find ways to be united if we will be Church, united with faith and power to make this world a better place.

Much of this divisiveness within our Church is the result of our unwillingness to associate with others in our Church, our unwillingness to even talk with each other, and feeling that we must challenge what others are saying. I believe a solution for new life in our Church will be a recognition that despite disagreements, there must be a readiness for Catholics to work together, to pray together, to unite to make our world a better place.

I have a habit of inviting a congregation to begin Mass by looking around at each other and to realize that this group is your family at this Mass. You should be praying with them all. At the same time, we should be praying for the others in our parish family. In fact, we should be praying for our Church family throughout the world.

I often mention an event in my ministry in which a person mentioned to me that he would pray for everyone there except that one person. My response: you are in the wrong Church. That is not the way we do things here.

At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed for the Church, the people, the Church for all time, the Church for now and for a Church that is united, working and praying together and united with the Lord Jesus to make this world a place of love and peace. Let me share John 15:11 with you: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

Our Church is alive when united and working together. We are indeed friends of Jesus. Jesus unites us in one Church, one family. We must be united to each other.

In this same prayer, Jesus goes on to help us understand why our union together is so important – necessary – at this time. Jesus says: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Love one another. Jesus urges his Church to be a loving people, alive in the Spirit of the Lord and united that we can demonstrate we know how to be Church with each and every one of us loving one another. Finally, in John 17:20, Jesus says to us: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me through their word so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be one in us.”

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