One of the primary teachings of Christ and Sacred Scripture is the unity that we share as members of Christ’s body. As disciples of Christ, we are called to unity with him, who has clothed us in his eternal life and glory, who nourishes us with his life and spirit through his Word and Sacrament. One with Christ, we are to be servants of unity, in the Church and in the world. We do this through humility, solidarity and compassion for all of God’s children.
Jesus calls us to relationship with himself, just as he called his first followers, and all the holy men and women since that time. John’s Gospel recalls images of the unity every believer shares with Christ. Jesus uses the image of the vine as an example of this unity and the fruit it is to bear when he says: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) In the same Gospel, Jesus underlines how strongly he desires the unity he shares with us to be lived in our relationships with one another when he prays: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.” (John 17:11)
Through his Word, Jesus shares with us his “Spirit and life.” (John 6: 63) Through the Eucharist, in his flesh and blood, Jesus gives us life. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) St. Paul builds upon the Eucharistic teaching when he says: “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” (Romans 12:4)
During the Preparation of the Gifts, the priest or deacon pours a drop of water into the wine, and then the priest prays silently: “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” As Christ through the Incarnation took on our human condition, we are called to humbly cooperate with his grace to take on more and more the divine life he has shared with us.
As we enter more fully into the Life of Christ, we are to further build up his Body within the Church. We are to be servants of unity, as stated in Eucharistic Prayer II: “Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.” This unity that Christ prays for is a working of the Holy Spirit. Unity is also the work of the members of Christ.
In the face of so much division and indifference in our world, let us make unity, the central work of Christ and the Church, our own work. Let us pray for the courage to overcome indifference, growing in solidarity and compassion for the immigrants, refugees, and marginalized. Such humility, solidarity and compassion are needed to promote unity.
When we live in unity with Christ, who holds all things together, (Colossians 1:17), we live in unity with all creation and with all people, and thus “live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)