Today’s readings (Mass for the school children)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls his Apostles. These are the men who will be closest to him and will follow after him throughout his ministry on earth. Even though these men weren’t the most popular people in the area, even though they weren’t wealthy, even though they may not even have been the smartest, he called them to do something very special. During the time they followed him, they learned from Jesus how to live the Gospel, how to bring God’s love to others. After Jesus died and rose and ascended into heaven, it was up to them, then, to continue to bring that Gospel message to every person on earth. These men became the Church.
This week is the annual week of prayer for Christian Unity. During this week we remember that Christ came to found one and only one Church – Jesus didn’t send the apostles out with different messages, it was just one message and just one Gospel, so just one Church. But sadly, over time, people have messed that up through our sin and pride. Now there are many kinds of Churches. There are Catholics and Methodists and Episcopalians and so many more. You may have friends or family members who are not Catholic, but Christians of other denominations like this. These are all good people, all our brothers and sisters, but Jesus never meant for us to be apart.
The good news that we celebrate this week is that some of that is changing. Slowly, but surely. Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists are beginning to come to agreement on an essential teaching about how we are saved. Orthodox and Catholics are beginning to talk about Eucharist and the role of the pope. Even Catholics and Evangelicals are coming together in many ways to promote the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.
We still have a long way to go, but these steps are signs of progress. We focus on what we all believe in: a loving God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the hope of eternal life because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the gift of the Holy Spirit, our common Baptism and the promise of everlasting life in heaven. From these we can begin our prayer for unity, that, as Jesus always intended, we may all be one. Just as he called those Twelve Apostles, he now calls us to reach out to those who are not one with us and to tell them how much God loves them. And he calls us always to pray that we would be one Church, one Body in Christ.