The Difference Between Division and MultiplicationFr. Barnabas Powell
Politics in the US has really devolved into the competing desires and power of different “groups.” And it seems current political operatives are bound and determined to make sure every “American” is shuttled into one of several defined “groups” of competing “ideologies.” The “rich” against the “poor”; this “race” against that “race”; this orientation against that orientation; and so on.
But when do we get beyond these temporary distinctions and get to the heart of what unites us rather than those things that divide us? No nation or society can long endure when the fundamental “Why” of our existence is forgotten or subjugated to some smaller distinction. As the famous radio commentator Paul Harvey use to say “We are not one nation;” and yet our pledge of allegiance claims we are “one nation, under God…”
If this is true for a political society, it is so because it is true of all of humanity. This temptation to divide along this or that distinction or certain demands for “rights” (what a foolish and fruitless waste of human energy!) is, at it’s heart, the struggle of each of us in our internal lives. You see, we are divided in society, in the whole world, because we, each of us, struggles with our own divided hearts. All of our external divisions are mere reflections of our internal dividedness! We are divided from one another BECAUSE we are divided within ourselves! Overcoming this internal division is the absolute KEY to healing our external division!
Look at Galatians 3:23-29; 4:1-5. St. Paul is writing to the Church in Galatia and this church is divided because of some folks saying the Christians have to strictly observe the old Jewish rules and others who are saying nothing matters now that they have been made “free” in Christ. The natural human tendency to divide rather than heal and come together is threatening the unity of the Church in Galatia! St. Paul writes to these divided people and reminds them “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:27-29
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This familiar baptismal hymn reminds us that Christ doesn’t divide. He unites. The miracle of the ancient Christian faith is that it overcomes and unifies all these “groups” into one new “group” that of the Body of Christ. Instead of dividing, the Faith multiplies!
And how does the faith do this? By reminding each of us that before we can heal our external divisions, we must be healed from our internal divisions. St. Paul reminds the Galatians that the centuries of religious instruction that had preceded the Messiah coming to do His saving work were meant to instruct us and prepare us for this miraculous intervention by God. The Lord came Himself to settle the wars in our hearts so that the external wars of this group against that group could finally be settled!
Today, how is your own divided heart keeping alive external divisions in your life? Is your internal war with yourself making it harder to get along with those in your life? It doesn’t have to be this way. The Faith once for all delivered to the saints is meant to heal your internal divisions so that you have the grace and love to overcome all external divisions through grace and love! If you are a Christian, then you have “put on” Christ and He sees past all these temporary divisions and only sees objects of His eternal love and devotion. That’s how you are meant to see yourself and everyone around you! It’s time to abandon the foolish and temporary divisions and embrace the multiplication of Christ’s love and His saving life in our hearts and in our homes!