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October 5, 2018 - The Labor of Unity

Monday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

There is not in recent memory a time of such discord, factionalism, and disunity in our society. People seem to feel emboldened and even justified in saying and doing the most dreadful things. Oftentimes there doesn't even seem to be an objective other than causing outrage and division. The message in today's Scriptures relates a message that is particularly relevant in these times. It is a message of oneness and wholeness…a message of unity.

St. Paul, in the letter to the Philippians, exhorts the community of believers to faithfully strive to be one in Christ and with one another. He tells them to put aside selfishness and consider others first. In the Gospel, Jesus instructs the Pharisees, who've asked him to dine with them, to invite those they would otherwise exclude or never even consider. In their respective circumstances, both Jesus and St. Paul are directing others to change not only their actions but their dispositions as well.

Unity is not an isolated action or comment. It requires a process of ongoing work and struggle. It involves elements of thinking, listening, care, inclusion, humility, honesty and respect. Unity is a fundamental component of discipleship that really requires us (as St. Paul says) to be 'be of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. It requires a change in our entire disposition and it requires our labor. And as members of the Body of Christ, if we are not actively working towards unity, our discipleship is not working.

So, how can we promote unity in our communities? It's a perfect question to take to prayer. It is the Spirit of God who grants us insight and bestows the graces we need for personal transformation. It is the Spirit who reveals (and provides!) opportunities in service of unity. This day, in prayer, let us reflect on how each of the interactions, relationships, and communities in our lives contribute to or detract from the work towards unity. May we allow God to direct our hearts and minds and grace our labors in service of unity.

- Gail Lyman