, Salem, MA

May 11, 2013

Letter: Christian unity and a ‘leap of faith’

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

Upon reflection after reading your May 2 front page article, “Leap of Faith,” I feel someone needs to announce from the roof tops to “the world” that real Christian unity, what Jesus meant when he prayed that his followers be one, very much exists.

Naturally, all Christians love their familiar church culture. But the good news is Christian unity does not depend on membership in one worldwide church (whether it be Catholic, or any other Christian church denomination). Christian unity is transcultural. It entirely depends upon a supernatural gift from God. That gift is faith in Jesus Christ.

As soon as that gift makes Jesus “real,” he becomes the center of our life, and our center is the same as all other believers’ center. The oneness known to believers is because of the centrality of Christ. It’s defined by what Jesus says in his prayer, “that they may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us. … May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. … I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” Now, there we have Jesus’ idea of unity. It is in Christ himself. Frankly, the only kind of Christian unity.

Cardinal O’Malley is fond of referring to this prayer of Jesus upon the occasion of someone joining the Roman Catholic Church. Though it may be thought one tradition or another offers a fuller expression of faith, one tradition cannot offer a fuller portion of Christ, as Christ can’t be had incrementally. Either he is our center, our all, our life, or he is not. “Christ”-ianity is Christ.

When Anglican priest Jurgen Liias converted to Catholicism, he didn’t exchange one faith for another. Knowing Fr. Liias to be the man of faith he is, I believe he would say Jesus united him with non-Roman Catholics and Catholics alike before his change of vocation, and still unites him with all believers.

We shouldn’t be surprised that God, in fact, did answer Jesus’ prayer! Try as we might, we can’t organize unity, only God can … and he has. Time he got credit for it.

Bronwyn E. Loring