Christian Unity

“How could you move from the Magi’s gifts to Women Priests via the Death Penalty in last Sunday’s homily?”, asked someone.

Simple, by asking you to give your mind to God as a gift on the Epiphany – a wise gift as true as gold, incense or myrrh. Are you in favour of the death penalty? The Catholic Church in its Catechism supports you. The law of Great Britain does not.

Are you in favour of same-sex marriage? The law of the land supports you, the Church does not.

Are these your opinions (can change through good argument) or convictions (values by which you live)? How did you arrive at them in your thinking? Alone?

On an important issue can you truly think differently from the Church? Should you? On what grounds?

The Week of Christian Unity approaches. The Church declared a longing to such unity at the Vatican Council, 1962-5. Do you feel that longing or even want to? The issues that separate us seem to be four:

  1. The presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Can you explain our Catholic belief? Do you understand the beliefs of the other Christian Churches?
  2. The Popes, the Papacy. Other Churches point to the many unworthy men who have been popes; we answer that the popes are successors of St Peter and unworthy men cannot destroy what Christ established.
  3. Mary, whom we call the ever-virgin Mother of God. The other Churches accept her as Mother of Jesus, but not of God. Mary conceived the child Jesus in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit – the virginal conception; she gave birth, not as other women do, but by another miracle – the virgin birth; Mary and Joseph lived a virginal marriage. How would you answer the good Christians who cannot agree with what our Church says about Mary?
  4. Women Priests. Jesus chose his apostles, all men, from amongst his disciples. Agreed. But Jesus gave the Eucharist “Do this in memory of me” to the disciples present at the Last Supper – men and women. The Church chose men as priests – is it free to choose women under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? No, says the Church: yes, say the other Christian Churches. We pray for unity . . . .

We give our mind to God by thinking, our heart by loving and prayer. Epiphany gifts every day. A third one?

God bless us,

Fr John
(14th January 2018)