The news these days makes the risk of “World War III” seem all the more real. For years now, Pope Francis has spoken about the many conflicts around the world as “constitut[ing] a real ‘third world war fought piecemeal’”
We can feel afraid, uncertain, threatened. What are we to do?
Mother Teresa used to say, “Charity starts at home.”
Sadly, I think we could say the same of conflict, division, and war
. Indeed, many of the world’s most destructive dictators are scarred by terrible trauma in their personal lives, sowing seeds of hatred, vengeance, and domination. What we do here and now, on a personal level and in our wider communities, sows seeds of one kind or another for our own future and for generations to come.
The COVID pandemic has shown us our need for human contact, for spending time with our loved ones, for being together
above and beyond the connectivity of social media. At the same time, it has revealed tensions, fault lines, and polarizations at home and abroad. Many families have been divided down the lines of “anti-vax
” and “pro-vax
”. Each of us can think of real examples of strain and divisiveness in our own lives and around the world.
In such a tense climate, let us dare to turn over a new leaf of unity
. As the pandemic winds towards its end, as spring approaches, and as Lent comes upon us, here are three pathways to which we can commit ourselves, each in our own way:
1) Pray for unity
. Praying has two amazing effects. First, it orients our own hearts towards whatever we pray for: the good of a person, the good of a situation, the needs of the world. Second, it lifts who or what we pray for up to God, letting Him act more powerfully to work His wonders. Do we pray for the unity of our families, our communities, and our world? Do we dispose our hearts to being united with one another, and let God enter into tension and division in order to bring us together?
2) Dream of unity
. Imagine how you can help to sow seeds of unity in your own life and in the world. What contribution can you make? Is there a family member, friend, or colleague to forgive or from whom to ask forgiveness? Is there a grudge that needs healing and reconciliation? Is there a situation that you have long considered hopeless that simply requires a change of heart, a new perspective, and the help of God’s grace?
3) Dare to walk forward together
. No matter how much we’ve argued with one another or how distant we’ve become, walking forward together is always possible. It depends on us. God always opens a window of fresh air, even where we have closed doors. He asks us to be humble, merciful, and courageous. Even when people have drastically different opinions than we do, are we willing to see the bigger picture and be united in our differences for the good of everyone? This is what the path of synodality
is calling us to as a Church: walking forward together in the unity that God gives us amidst diversity. In the Church and in the world, do we see divergent points of view as different sides of the coin that can mutually enrich one another or as diametrically opposed sides that keep us at loggerheads?
No opinion, no point of view, no conviction that is worth its salt requires us to ostracize others, build walls, and let animosity get the best of us. In the words of St. John of the Cross: “Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw out love”
(Letter 27). Let us take his word for it, sowing the seeds of a more united world. Today and tomorrow depend on it.
Come, Holy Spirit, breathe the love of God into the dead bones of the divisions, conflicts, and tensions that plague our families, our communities, and our world. Revive humanity so that we may live in unity as one family.
Julian would be happy to hear from you, with any questions, insights, or suggestions you may have regarding this blog series. He can be reached at email@example.com.