Thursday, June 05, 2014

Determine the Truth

The next day, wishing to determine the truth about why he was being accused by the Jews, he freed him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them.  Acts 22:30

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.  John 17:20-21

Just as Jesus prayers for unity, we too pray for unity with God and with each other.  The world divides but our faith in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church must proceed. 

Wishing to determine the truth, Paul is brought before the Sanhedrin.  In the scene, we see the Roman commander who realizes that his prisoner also is a citizen.  We see the factions of the Pharisees and Sadducees who have disagreements amongst themselves.  And we see the emerging beliefs of the new church which also distinguish it from the Hebrew traditions.  Paul, in the center, brings witness to these groups…but that witness only inflames the divisions.
Jesus had prayed right before leaving for the Gethsemane for unity.  In this scene from the first reading, we see how far we have to go to get there. 

As Pope Francis journeyed to the Holy Land last month, he planned a meeting with the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church to mark the anniversary of the Council of Nicea. 
John Allen of the Boston Globe reported the following during the tour:  Pope Francis continued his goodwill tour through the Middle East today, offering a message of “mercy, magnanimity and compassion” in stops at sites holy to both Muslims and Jews and visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial to lament what he called a “boundless tragedy.”
On his way home from a meeting with Pope Francis in the Holy Land, Patriarch Bartholomew I, the primary leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians, gave an interview in which he said that he and Francis are planning a gathering in Nicaea 11 years from now "to celebrate together, after 17 centuries , the first truly ecumenical synod." That's a pretty big deal; in 1054, theological disagreements led to a schism in Christianity, which is how Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians became separate faith traditions. This is a call back to a time before the schism, before the Protestant Reformation and the fundamental disagreements that kept popes and patriarchs from talking to each other for more than 900 years. 
The prayers for unity may foretell an important story which may take more than a decade to develop.  However, if the seeds planted in Jerusalem last month are cultivated, who knows what might results in 2025. 

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