Christians must lead way to unity

By  Victoria Huryn, Catholic Register Special
  • January 23, 2009
{mosimage}Editor’s note: this is the second place winner of the Friars’ Student Writing Award sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register. Victoria Huryn, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Toronto’s Hawthorn School For Girls. The contest is held in conjunction with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. All six winning essays are to be published.

One — a word undeniably miniscule in quantitative terms, it nevertheless is of no small consequence. It is a term of unity, of singleness of purpose, of affiliation, of federation, of partnership, of alliance. As such, when the words of the prophet Ezekiel, “That they may be one in Your hands,” are brought to the forefront of one’s thoughts, the word one assumes a far grander connotation — in today’s society, one almost daunting.

To formulate unity in a world torn apart by differences of opinion, ravaged by war, divided by crisis and alienated by disease is a magnanimous undertaking. To be sure, such a task can be termed nothing less than a most monumental mission. In a church divided by schism, a disregard for authority and doctrinal dissension, the challenge of initiating a sense of communion is, in fact, greatly enhanced. The challenge evokes a calling — a responsibility, even — of import personally, socially and spiritually. It conveys a summons to transcend  isolation in one’s faith — a call to persevere down the path of the Cross, not alone, but in solidarity. And so, one is faced with two imperative questions — obvious yet essential: What does it mean to be one? How can such a unity be effected?

First and foremost, the inspired words of the prophet Ezekiel in the Bible are a manifestation that it was never God’s intention for His church to split and that those who have instigated the divisions are now endowed with the mission of rebuilding what was broken and of retrieving the sense of communion that was lost. The responsibility is invested in all citizens of creation, wealthy or destitute, resilient or frail. However, our duty as pious Christians is exponentially heightened, for, in the Bible, God’s call for unity resonates compelling and clear. It is the role of Christians, representatives of a life lived according to Christ, to lead the way, setting a positive example for people of other religious faiths, doctrinal beliefs and personal convictions.

As such, the primary and one of the most effective means of encouraging unity is for Christians to endeavour to institute a change in their own way of life — to lead lives which fall in accordance with the Christian virtues. Hope humility, justice and of course charity — it is the zealous practise of such virtues that enable Christians to develop a deep-seated and fervent love for an aspect of the faith which all hold in common: Christ is the one foundation. It is in the common ground that compromise, reconciliation and mutual respect are also often discovered.

As in everything, prayer is one’s most far-reaching ally. Prayer is the infallible weapon in the spiritual battle for one’s immortal soul. As such, one is able to fully comprehend the resounding consequence and great necessity of a week of prayer for Christian unity. As faithful, we believe that an invocation of God’s aid in spiritual matters dear to His own heart is sure to be answered, though we mortals fail to comprehend the manner of its achievement or calculate the hour of its accomplishment. The underestimation of the power of prayer is perhaps the greatest downfall of present-day society. 

Nevertheless, though omnipotent and omniscient, it is not for humankind to leave matters solely in God’s hands. No, Christians play a definite role in placing themselves, each and every one, in those hands, and hence, that they may all be one in the same hands of the Father requires a marked and conscious effort on the part of all. It is the duty of Christians to carry out His will and His works. In taking ownership of the cause, then, one must strive for a channel to unity on a human level. What in existence has become more human than dialogue itself? Honest and unaffected dialogue — unimpeded by prejudice, preconception and discrimination — is a most powerful method. It is through such discourse that Christians are extricated from the binds of selfishness, the shackles of prejudice and the confines of judgment — then does unity begin to flourish.

The establishment of unity in a world where dissension has been continually sown among the sons and daughters of God — faithful and unfaithful alike — is not without its share of obstacles and hardships. Despite the difficulty, the reformation of Christian unity is turning into an ever-impending necessity. For Christians to exhibit disunity has its ramifications on all of humanity; people who look to the Christian example are confused and even discouraged. Through such measures as prayer, dialogue and an abiding love for one another, Christians are in the position to indeed enact a change and to be a beacon of hope in a world that has despaired and abandoned faith.

It is only then that the Christians may exist truly and substantially as “one in His hands.”

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