"I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you." 1Cor 1;10
Most divisions in families and parish communities are harmless. More political than theological, we experience them all the time. Someone claims to be a life long democrat or republican, a Met fan or a Yankee fan, a Vatican II catholic or a John Paul II catholic. As long as we respect the natural differences between and among us, they are innocuous and can even bring some life and fun to our communities.
At the same time, these small divisions can become yawning craters if we cling to them too rigidly or recklessly and that is what concerned St Paul. In Paul's day, too many new converts, eager to develop their faith or shape their faith practices, found d themselves attracted to one or the other spiritual devotion or ritual practice and began to judge or look down upon other people and their choices. When this happens to our families or parishes, the entire community suffers. We become defensive of our own positions and dismissive of others, and this never helps a community grow and find the unity that God wants for us.
Opinions, no matter how carefully researched and studied, are still opinions. They are our interpretation of the data we uncover and cannot be normative for others. Opinions, especially those honestly and openly offered to others, are natural and good, but only when they lead to further discussion and conversation can they lead to a deeper unity among us. Deciding together as a community of faith how all can gather in peace, reflect on our faith tradition and serve others will lead to a deeper common life and help our families and parishes become the faith communities Christ intended us to be.
Today, ask yourself if your positions and how you express them invite others to know and love God more deeply.
What kinds of people and positions are most difficult for you to understand and accept?