By Fr. Roy Cimagala
YES, our true unity can only be achieved when we are with Christ, when we have the same spirit of Christ. It’s a unity that is not uniformity and can be lived even amid our unavoidable differences and conflicts.
In his priestly prayer as narrated in the gospel of St. John (17,20-26), Christ expressed his most ardent desire that we be “consummati in unum” (consummated in unity) just as the Father and the Son are one.
We are meant to be one with Christ, for that was his purpose for becoming man. We are meant to be living members of Christ’s mystical body which is now referred to as the Church.
The unity that Christ speaks of is not merely some natural kind of unity, achieved through social, cultural or political forces and laws, but a unity of spirit, of mind and heart, much like the unity that exists between God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We should always be concerned about unity, first with Christ and then with everybody else. Whatever may be our differences and conflicts, we should always be concerned about unity, not only trying to keep it but also trying to build it up, even at the instance precisely of our differences and conflicts.
Our differences and conflicts need not be divisive. If handled with the spirit of Christ, they can even generate the force to strengthen our unity. Our unity is not uniformity. We are not expected to agree in everything, and much less, in the same way and to the same degree. Especially in matters of opinion, taste and preferences, we are expected to have a wide range of variety, even to the point of getting in conflict.
We need to live out that ultimate desire of Christ which he expressed in his priestly prayer just before his passion and death. “My prayer is…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…May they be brought to complete unity…” (Jn 17,20 ff)
This would, of course, require us to have the same mind, the same attitude and ways of Christ. To gather us into one family, he finally offered his life for us. He did not simply stop at telling us what is right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust. Even on the cross, he offered forgiveness to those who crucified him.
We have to imitate this example of Christ, his example of true charity that goes all the way to being merciful and magnanimous. We know that he suffered the worst injustice in the whole history of mankind. While we can presume that he was most interested in having justice accorded to him, he eventually forewent it, since the greater good was the salvation of mankind.
This attitude shown by Christ should always be ours too. Yes, we are interested in justice, but given our human condition that will always be marked by weaknesses, mistakes, failures and sin, we should be ready to forego human justice to live out the more important value in our life, our love-driven unity among ourselves as children of God.
Thus, we have to learn how to be patient, compassionate and forgiving with everyone. In fact, we need to be proactive in this kind of attitude, not waiting for others to somehow deserve our patience, compassion and mercy. We should just reach out to them.