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Friends are gifts from God.

We Are Family

photo-1475201034759-66fe1c7b27e8We live in a competitive world. Often, we are at odds with one another or even violent. It can be discouraging. I find hope in God’s vision and plan for us. God is working to bring us together. He wants us to live in harmony with each other and our environment. It was God’s idea from the beginning when he gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden for their home.

We’ve read often about Saints Peter and Paul, pioneers in taking Jesus and his good news to all people. In a vision, Peter was told to go to the home of the Roman centurion Cornelius. Peter told the whole family about Jesus and welcomed them to the faith. The Holy Spirit descended on all of them just as on the apostles at Pentecost.

Paul moved from his closed world as a Pharisee to become the apostle to all the people of the Mediterranean world. In his Letter to the Galatians, he expressed dramatically to the followers of Jesus from many nationalities: “Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free person, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

In God’s Eyes

Each of us is unique, special, and precious in God’s eyes with our individual identity and ethnic heritage. In Baptism, we “put on Christ.” God begins transforming us to be Christ-like. Paul says “being in Christ” is our deepest identity.

Baptized Christians of all denominations throughout the world are one in Christ Jesus. It is a profound worldview. Diverse as we are in nationality and culture, as followers of Jesus, we are one. We are aware of our divisions, but in Jesus we are one. Pope Francis is consistently calling us to overcome our differences. In his encyclical Laudato si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), he invites “every person living on this planet to enter into dialogues with all people about our common home.” Dialogue means respectful listening and openness to working together for the good of everyone in our world. People of all religions are encouraged by the pope to work together.

God’s calling us to unity gives hope to all of us that we are God’s children. Our Father sees us as his own. We are not at odds with one another. We are sisters and brothers. We’ve a long way to go, but God is with us in the effort. Our hostilities discourage us, but God’s plan keeps our hope alive.

My friends, next time you are in your place of worship, ask God to make you a messenger of the good news—like Paul and Peter. Like you, they were special!