Thursday, April 29, 2010

About Sacred Relationships

Reflections on the Readings

Fifth Sunday of Easter - May 2, 2010, Year C

By Dennis Hankins

About Sacred Relationships

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - Jesus

If I read it once, I read it hundreds of times.  The sign hung just above the doors in my childhood Pentecostal church, a final reminder before we re-entered the world.  I can still see it in my memory.  It reads: Let us all pull together, for we won't be here long. 

Perhaps our parishes should have a sign for us to read, a gentle, but important reminder above the doors, before we go back into the world.  I can see it.  It reads: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - Jesus.  

On the day of Pentecost, those in the upper room are all together in one place.  Luke describes the early church as being of one heart and soul. (Acts 4:32) Paul says the church builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:16) Confronting the contentious divisions within the church at Corinth, Paul teaches that Christ's body, the church, has many members, yet it is one.  

In fact, God's arrangement of the body calls for greater honor be given to those inferior in rank or status or ability.  Why?  That there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  (1 Corinthians 12:22-26)  

We have what scripture describes as koinonia.  It is a rich word in the New Testament translated as fellowship or participation.  It describes the intimate participation in Jesus we experience in receiving his Body and his Blood.  And by extension, because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.  (1Corithians 10:17)

From the earliest days, the Church is known for its devotion to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42) This sacred koinonia comprises the Church, that sacred body where Jesus is found.  Jesus affirms this saying, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them."  A clear reference to the Eucharist.

We are a sacred people, sharing together in the mysteries of the faith.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.(Matthew 5:23-24)

You're my brother, and you're my sister.  It is about sacred relationships.  As Jesus says, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples."

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

Let us pray: O' Lord, may we be of one mind in truth, and of one heart in charity.  Amen.  


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