We’ve just celebrated Pentecost Sunday – the day when we celebrate the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all who follow Jesus. And I am reminded of the kind of unity that the Holy Spirit brings in our relationships, as we open ourselves to His work in our hearts.
The distinctive mark of the Holy Spirit is NOT oppressive unity (a stifling uniformity), NOR conflictual diversity (an individuality that scatters us), but Unity in Diversity (communities that respect individuality & diversity, and where people are connected in love around Jesus and through the new life that He offers us).
All of us receive the new life of Jesus through the one Spirit, who gives us gifts that enable us to serve God, one another and our world, in an amazing variety of ways, through our unique personalities & stories. And yet all of these expressions of service are meant to complement each other to serve the growth of Jesus’ Body – the Church – and the common good of all peoples. That’s something only God can pull off and that’s what we celebrate today.
At the same time, this is not automatic, because we have been given free will and have to make room for the Spirit to work on the many wounds & false beliefs in our hearts, which become a hindrance to the kind of unity that the Spirit wants to bring us into, in the church and in our world.
Our reality is that many times we have fallen into and fall into oppressive unity or conflictual diversity in the churches and in society.
Yet this vision is not just something utopian and unattainable. The many Saints of the Church and communities within the church and in society, where transformation in relationships has occurred /is happening even now, is a witness to what is possible, when we yield to the working of the Spirit in our hearts and relationships.
I have personally witnessed and am witnessing this in places around the world and this gives me great hope and strength to keep working toward this kind of unity in my own sphere of influence.