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Essay: Drawing nearer to God

By  Nicholas De Castro, Catholic Register Special
  • March 10, 2021

Imagine a circle with lines radiating around it. As the lines move farther away from the circle’s centre, they move farther apart from each other. The Sisters of Grandchamp, a religious community that led daily reflections during this year’s Week of Christian Unity, shared this analogy to help Christians understand how unity rests in abiding in Christ.

“I am the Vine; you are the branches” Jesus says during the Last Supper. “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (Jn 15:5). When we abide in Jesus, our relationship with Him is as intimate as a branch grafted onto a vine.

More than being appended to Christ, we are sharing in the same life as His. Unfortunately, many Christians reject this daily invitation to be in relationship with Him. Evident in our divided Church and world, Christians are moving farther apart from each other because we are moving further away from God.

To bring unity across all Christian denominations and the human family, we must graft onto Jesus. “Love one another as I have loved you,” (Jn 15:12) the Divine Teacher commands us. But how can we authentically love each other if we do not spend time with the One who is love (see 1Jn 4:8)? To foster this intimate relationship with Him, we must observe silence in our prayer to listen to how He calls us to love, and be immersed in Scripture to study the ways He has demonstrated His love for us.

In listening to the quiet voice of God, we learn how to listen to each other. Promoting dialogue between different denominations and faiths forge peace within our increasingly dissonant society. Though we cannot meet in person, we can still discuss our faith virtually via Zoom or Google Meets. By finding common ground and uniting in the same messages of love and mercy, Christians and people of faith can share their resources and gifts to abolish injustices and aid the suffering more effectively than if they were to do it alone.

In the Gospels, three ways Jesus demonstrated His love for us was by feeding the 5,000 (Mt 14:13-21), healing the leper (Mk 1:40-45) and comforting Lazarus’s sisters (Jn 11:17-37). To imitate Christ’s mission of feeding the poor and healing the sick, charitable organizations, such as The Scott Mission, are responding to the COVID-19 crisis by distributing hot meals and providing welcome centres and food banks. To ensure that these organizations continue to serve the community, Christians can financially support them, volunteer their time or donate materials. Those of us in quarantine can also share in Christ’s mission by consoling the suffering via calls and praying for the dead and the grieving.

Bridging the divide in our Christian world stems from our internal prayer life that transforms our external actions. Recall the image of the circle and the radiating lines. When the lines are distant from the centre, they move farther apart from each other. But, when they are near the centre, they come closer together.

Similarly, Christians must walk toward God, who is the centre of our Christian family, to become united with each other. In turn, the closer we are to each other, the closer we are God.

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