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Unity amid our differences, diversity, conflicts

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“Whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mk 9,40) Words of Christ in response to his disciples who said, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”

If we have the spirit of Christ, as we should, then we would have the same reaction when we are faced with a similar situation, which is something common since we cannot deny that we will always have some differences and conflicts among ourselves, and will have to contend with the unavoidable diversity of cultures, beliefs, lifestyles, etc., among ourselves.

We have to be wary of our tendency to have some kind of exclusivistic mentality, which is part of our wounded human condition. This is due mainly to our tendency to use merely human or worldly standards, instead of the sense of unity that comes from God and is what is truly proper to us, children of God as we are.

We also tend to stereotype people, to box them in, practically straitjacketing a person as if that person cannot change for the better. We seldom give others second chances. We end up being stricter than God who always blends his strictness with mercy.

And again, we also tend to dogmatize what simply are matters of opinion and personal and class preferences. And so, we end up being unnecessarily divisive among ourselves. This is not to mention that we often compare ourselves with others, and end up falling into petty envies, etc.

How can we manage to have unity amid our unavoidable differences, diversity and conflicts? To be blunt about it, it’s when we adapt Christ’s spirit that is marked with pure charity. Only then would we manage to deal properly with our differences

Yes, it’s the charity that St. Paul describes as “patient, is kind. Charity does not envy, does not act wrongly, is not inflated. Charity is not ambitious, does not seek for itself, is not provoked to anger, devises no evil. Charity does not rejoice over iniquity, but rejoices in truth. Charity suffers all, believes all, hopes all, endures all.” (1 Cor 13:4-7)

Yes, it’s the charity that enables us to bear the burdens of each other and thus fulfil the law of Christ. (cfr. Gal 6,2) It’s the charity that is willing to suffer for the others, and can consider as our real treasures here on earth the following conditions: hunger, thirst, heat, cold, pain, dishonor, poverty, loneliness, betrayal, slander, prison…

It’s the charity that considers sacrifice as its way, that welcomes any cross that can come our way, that is detached from passing opinions and views, and willing to suffer for the truth, no matter how unfair that would be. It’s the charity that knows how to love enemies and to be ever merciful and magnanimous, how to be “all things to all men,” (1 Cor 9,22) irrespective of how the others are.

It’s charity that perfectly blends truth, justice and mercy, and ends up achieving unity and equality among ourselves. If we have this charity, we would be willing to suffer and even to die for others, as Christ did, if only to achieve the real unity among ourselves.

Like Christ, we have to take the initiative to understand everyone, to be patient and willing to suffer for whatever it takes to have that all-inclusive kind of love. Far from turning us off or distancing ourselves from the parties concerned when we experience these differences and conflicts, we should all the more be interested to be with them, to help and love them in whatever way we can, always with God’s grace.*

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