Today, I would like to comment upon a beautiful passage in Saint Paul’s incomparable letter to the Ephesians, that is certainly one of the high points of the New Testament. Saint Paul is encouraging his converts in Ephesus to preserve unity among themselves, since in unity, there is peace, and in disunity, there is conflict. One of the saddest aspects of our sinful humanity is that we tend toward disunity. We are forever dividing ourselves into “we” and “they.” It happens between races, between nationalities, between religious groups, between political parties, between two factions in the same family, and often with the most insignificant basis for our silly divisions. Jonathan Swift, the English author of “Gulliver’s Travels,” ridiculed this human tendency when he described the foibles of life in the land of Lilliput to which Gulliver traveled. The two main political parties there were the Big-Endians and the Little-Endians, and the division was based upon whether they opened their soft-boiled eggs for breakfast on the big end or the little end!
Saint Paul, in a far more serious vein, asks the Ephesians to “preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” And he goes on to emphasize the many sacred realities which have been given to us to keep us unified and at peace: “one body and one spirit . . . hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
Sin causes us to be centrifugal, which means “fleeing the center.” God wants us to be one human family, loving and serving one another. We are anything but that: we ridicule and kill and steal from and rape and swindle and take advantage of and make war upon and sexually abuse and bear false witness against one another. It started in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve came fresh from the loving and creating hands of God, they loved one another and were delighted in each other’s company and in God’s mastery over them. But then came sin, in which they both disobeyed God’s law. Then they hid from God; He was no longer seen as a loving Lord, but a God whose command they had violated, and who was therefore to be feared and hidden from. And when God questioned Adam: “Why did you do that?” Adam said “The WOMAN whom YOU gave me — she tempted me, so I sinned.” It was HER fault, and God’s. The typical human denial of guilt.
To counteract this centrifugal force of sin, Our Lord Jesus Christ comes into the world to be a source of unity, of universal attraction. He comes like a divine magnet, drawing to himself the iron particles of the human race. Those who surrender themselves to his attraction become one with him; but we can resist that attraction, and remain apart, disunified. Christ prays that “there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.” Just as our one soul animates every part of our body, so the Holy Spirit animates all those who belong to Christ. Let us surrender to the action of the Spirit within ourselves, the Church, the world. Let us be ONE as God our one Father intends, and Christ, our one Lord, wishes. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.