In today’s Evangelii Gaudium post, we read the Holy Father’s challenge to be an example to the world, which obviously, has enough conflict and division:
99. Our world is being torn apart by wars and violence, and wounded by a widespread individualism which divides human beings, setting them against one another as they pursue their own well-being. In various countries, conflicts and old divisions from the past are re-emerging. I especially ask Christians in communities throughout the world to offer a radiant and attractive witness of fraternal communion. Let everyone admire how you care for one another, and how you encourage and accompany one another: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). This was Jesus’ heartfelt prayer to the Father: “That they may all be one… in us… so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). Beware of the temptation of jealousy! We are all in the same boat and headed to the same port! Let us ask for the grace to rejoice in the gifts of each, which belong to all.
Practically speaking, where does this leave us? Many readers here are internet regulars. We have a duty–and it is not new with Pope Francis–to be a better, if not “radiant,” example of Christian communion. Remember the Gospel teaching of the Lord: If someone has a problem with us, it is incumbent on us to go to them and offer a truce. From there, they can take it or leave it.
When we are living in our comfortable communities in the First World, we occasionally have contentious issues surface in our communities. Rarely do these conflicts involve loaded firearms. But there are issues we can stand together with our Christian sisters and brothers and present the alternative of serenity and calm and reason when tempers flare.
I was struck by the witness of the Ukrainian clergy standing amid the conflicts in their country. What a witness if Orthodox and Catholic were to stand together in such situations.