On Wednesday, January 25th, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, the week of prayer for Christian Unity came to a close. This week of prayer begins every year, on January 18th, when the Church remembers the Confession of St. Peter.
I love that it is these two titans from the early Church who bookend this week. These two men were known to have been frequently at odds with one another. They disagreed. They fought. They provide a good reminder that division and difference in Christianity runs deep.
Those divisions have continued, they have multiplied, for both good and bad reasons, over the millennia. Unfortunately, these divisions have often been accompanied by violence, pettiness, power, hate, and arrogance. I lament all of the broken relationships that this has caused throughout the history of the Church, the ways that we have hurt and looked down upon one another.
However, in the same breath, there is something beautiful about the diversity of the Church. We can learn so much, and appreciate so much from our siblings who embody different flavours of the faith. Maybe it is not a flaw, but a strength.
And so, my prayer for this week, my prayer year-round, is not for sameness or conformity in the Church. My prayer is not that everyone becomes like me, or that we all meet in the middle, but that we might have healthy relationships in the Church. My prayer is that we might have the love and humility to be united in Christ.
Thanks be to God!