Homily for October 7, 2012: Parish Value of UNITY: Fr. Scott Bullock


For that last three weeks, we’ve been reflecting upon the ideals that must characterize our parish, if we are to be a vibrant Catholic Community of the Christian faith:

Three weeks ago we spoke of the ideal of FIDELITY: Our need to be faithful to gospel of Jesus as it comes to the us through the Scriptures, our Tradition, and the Holy Spirit who still guides us. Two weeks ago, we focused on the ideal of HOSPITALITY: that each member and visitor must be treated AS GUESTS. Last week, we looked to the ideal of COMPASSION: not just doing good, but above all BEARING OTHERS’ BURDENS and sharing in their suffering, as Christ himself bore our infirmities.

Today, we reach the final ideal that must characterize our parish:  UNITY: BEING OF ONE MIND—THAT OF JESUS, and seeking the fulfillment of Jesus’ final prayer for us—“that they might all be one.”  To reflect upon this ideal the must characterize our future, we must look back to our parish’s rich history:

Our first church, part of our former school, was dedicated on July 4, 1923, with a new wing, now next to our parish offices, added in 1927 as a larger church, now called Kerper Hall.   Next July we will celebrate 90 years as a parish. The new church was dedicated on December 17, 1967, which also included new offices and a rectory.   In about two months, we will have been worshipping in this space for 45 years, half of our parish’s history.

How did we do it?  How has our parish endured so long?  To answer, we must look at the remarkable stained glass windows on the north side of the Church, crafted by Gabriel Loire of Chartres, France.  The middle set of windows depict the power of Jesus’ cross, with, the saving blood of Jesus flowing out over all of creation, the other two panels of stained glass, to depict the saving and rescuing of the world.That salvation reaches its pinnacle in that depicted in the first set of windows to the, the resurrection.  See the tomb, grey shapes at the bottom broken open and empty, with the light of life, the light of Christ, bursting out into the world.  Notice how the shafts of light spread out across the other windows, and in fact over all creation.  It is in the dying and rising of Christ that we have been given new life.  Finally, the east window on this side reveals how we come to know the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.  How can these events, which happened some 20 centuries ago, touch and affect our lives?  It is in the Eucharist, seen in this window, that we can reach over time to the saving dying and rising of Jesus.

So, how do we continue our mission as the people of God, the Church of Christ, here at the Church of the Nativity?  Only in the saving actions of Jesus, his cross and his resurrection, re-presented to us again and again, “when we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.”

UNITY!  We want to be a parish that unifies believers, so that all who come here may be joined more fully together in the life and mission of our parish and our church. How will this happen?  And where can we come together? In today’s gospel, Jesus commands those who are married to remain unified.  “Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Traditionally, marriage, the union of a man and a woman, is seen by our faith as a glimpse of the union between Christ and his Church.  How do a man and a woman actually become one in the unity of marriage?  “What God has joined.” God does it.

Those who are married know how awesome and difficult is this teaching of Jesus, “no human being must separate” a God-made marriage. I was speaking with a woman who recently had celebrated her 65 wedding anniversary with her husband.  She told me with humor, “I never once thought about divorce.  Murder, yes, but never divorce.” If unity in marriage, the bringing together of two lives is so difficult and, impossible without the love of God at work, how could we hope to bring unity among the hundreds of persons who call the Church of the Nativity their spiritual home? “For humans it is impossible, but not for God.”

This is the importance of the North windows.  The only hope for the possibility of unity of all who gather her is if we are all touched and covered by the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, particularly as it comes to us in the Eucharist that we here share.  Each time we gather here, whether regular members or visitors, we rely on Christ’s death and resurrection to pour over us and bring us together. If we are to be unified, we will not come together directly. Instead, we will be unified only when we meet in Christ.  He is the single point of convergence that will permit us to attain the ideal of unity for which he prayed and to which our parish’s strategic plan rightfully directs us.  If we are to become unified, it will be a meeting in Christ, a unity in Christ.

In fact, only in Christ will we attain the realization of any of our ideals.  Only in Christ will we become the Catholic Christian parish we hope to be:  one typified by our ideals of FIDELITY, HOSPITALITY, COMPASSION AND UNITY. Let us come then to Christ, that he might make us what we can never do on our own:  The body of Christ present and active here at the Church of the Nativity.