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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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Sts. Pontian & Hippolytus

Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22
Psalm 113:1-6
Matthew 18:15-20

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<u>one</u>, holy, catholic, apostolic church

"Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in their midst." —Matthew 18:20

The body of Christ has been split between Orthodox and Catholic for almost 1000 years. Protestants separated from Catholics about 500 years ago. Then Protestants splintered into thousands of denominations within which are many other divisions. We've always lived in a severely divided Church, in Christ's terribly broken body. No one living has ever seen the Church united.

We have learned to live with disunity. It's difficult for us to fathom Jesus' high-priestly prayer that we become one as He and the Father are one (Jn 17:21). However, the Lord is calling us to "make every effort to preserve the unity" we have and restore the unity we've lost (Eph 4:3). We must leave our gift at the altar and go to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters (Mt 5:23ff). We have the responsibility to correct those who have wronged us and also be open to correction if we have wronged others (see Mt 18:15). Moreover, we must be peacemakers (Mt 5:9), ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18), and witnesses (Mt 18:16) in order to help others resolve their disagreements. If necessary, we should call on our pastors to bring about unity in problem situations (Mt 18:17). The Church may even have to acknowledge that those in disunity have in effect excommunicated themselves (Mt 18:17). A person's decision to be excommunicated is officially accepted by the Church primarily to encourage that person to decide to return to communion with the Church.

These means for restoring unity may seem extreme, but not if we have Jesus' heart for His broken body, the Church.

Prayer:  Father, may I be willing to pray daily and even die to re-unite Your Church (see Pope John Paul II's encyclical, That They Be One, 102).

Promise:  "From the rising to the setting of the sun is the name of the Lord to be praised." —Ps 113:3

Praise:  Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus forgave their bitter enemies — each other.

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 19, 2014

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