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World Religions in Assisi with Pope Francis


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September 30 2013 16:30 | Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere

Unity and brotherhood: one possible reading

Paulo Lockmann

President of the World Methodist Council
1. Unit as purpose of God, revealed in the creation
a) Unit as part of yourself - Gen.1:26-27
The biblical idea of man as the God´s image, carries in itself the principle of unity and identity. Mankind can only find their identity, in union with God.
Thus we do not exist outside of oneness with God, the break of this unit (sin), makes us vulnerable and fragile, giving space to the oppression and injustice that results from the absence of God in our life projects.
b) As part and manager (steward) of the created world - Gen.1:28
Our responsibility to the created world is to take care of it, ensuring that its resources is to serve the need for sustenance and all created beings. This means that there is a relationship of unity, identity and dependence among created beings, and to God we are guardians of that harmony. The creation depends on us and we it, and both depend on God. Breaking this balance, creates chaos in creation. This chaos that today we are witnessing with the ecological pollution, climate changes, promotes death and destruction as the direct result of the rupture of the bond with God and his creation. All creation must be linked to the original purpose of God, which  it is be in all created beings. This imbalance is the result of selfishness in to satisfy the desire of a few that are a part of the God´s purpose, to the detriment of the vast majority that is in God.
c) Man and woman, one part of the other, being both a single unit - Gen. 2:24
In the relationship between man and woman, it is clear the process unit exists in creation. We and the Lord are one body, one purpose. We and  the creation, created and interconnected according to the purpose of God that gives meaning to life and livelihood.
Similarly, male and female, both before God, are in relation to two identity with the creation and the creator. So we can not affirm the superiority or domination of one over the other, but in unity and cooperation in relation to rebuild two fraternal ideals of God. Communion and equality are the natural consequences of that life in unity. One can speak of different responsibilities, but rights before God and creation are the same. Ensure this is to continue the primordial unity with God and creation, the beautiful universe of the man and woman.
2 ) Unit characteristic of the relationship between the Son - Jesus and the Father - God.
John 1:1-2, John 5:19.
a) This unit is the one that gives authority and towards Jesus - John. 5.20-30
The Gospel of John is extremely rich in the discourses of Jesus, when he shows the nature of his ministry, and its dependence and unity with the Father
Starting in the prologue, where it says: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." 
There is no distinction in nature, the Father and the Son are mixed in one unit
This unit, according to John, chapter 5:20, is vital because it guides and supports the action of the Son among men and women. In the same direction are the results (works) of the ministry of the Son, there is evidence of the presence of the Father, which shows the importance of the unit between the two.
Any God´s servant, needs this unit with the Father and the Son. Without it we just do the work for ourselves, without God's direction, and then we do not have results, because this union generates an inspiration and strength which is called the Holy Spirit in us and among us. The Holy Spirit is the one who keeps alive among us an unity with the Father and the Son.
b) Through Unity with the Father, Jesus reveals God's will - Jn. 6:38
In exercise of will we drive our lives, or our personal projects, or to project the Kingdom of God. It says God's sovereignty and ensures the balance of all creation, all in a unit ratio, guaranteeing the continuity of life in all and for all.
Jesus emphasizes his unity with the Father in submission to the will From Him as Father and Lord. The God´s will become the criterion or wire which ensures continuity of your project, started since creation. Jesus understands this clearly.
Today we live in a society where thousands live humiliated and oppressed by minorities insensitive to God's will, so the misery of many is the direct result of the breach of unity with God's will. And the result is a society divided, racially, economically, socially , etc. . Divisions are contrary to the God´s will, and have as a consequence the weakening of life as proposed by God.
c) The image of the vine. Oneness with the Father, produces the unit with the disciples - John 15.1-5
The Gospel of John is rich in images, multiple figures are created and others taken from the Old Testament. The vine is a symbolic image of life, as it is a crop whose cultivation was extremely old, since the taking of the land of Canaan, and one of the staples of the people.
God is the gardener, Jesus the vine and we are the branches. Figure sum indivisible parts. God takes care of his vine (Jesus), including cutting the branches.
God plants in this world the vine (Jesus) and this produces branches (the saved - the Church) and the branches can not survive without being connected together (UNIT), still attached to the vine and under the care of the gardener(God).
Are bonds that preserve unit and make the church grow.
3) Drive the purpose of Jesus to his disciples, Jesus' prayer for unity - John 17
a) The word of Jesus should unite them into submission and faith - John 17:1-8.
As can be seen, the Jesus Prayer is a confession about life and aspiration of the community of disciples. The unit is based on a confession of faith, Jesus declined as follows:
a.1) God is Lord of all glory and all authority and power - v.1
a.2) Jesus is His Son sent according to his purpose, and that comes from God and is God, and came to manifest the glory of God among all people, men and women - v.2 and 3
a.3) The God´s Glory is manifested through Jesus in doing the work that the Father has entrusted Jesus to do this was evident with the signs and wonders performed by Jesus - v.4
a.4) The greatest sign of the glory and power of God is eternal life, understood as salvation available to all and to all who believe in Jesus, and be experienced here as a new life in the new order of justice, love and equality for all which is given as a sign Free Father's love, which is made known in Jesus - v.3
Thus, affirming his faith in the Word of Jesus, the disciples were challenged to keep (meet), this word of confession missionary, where it is clear that Jesus' work was done, but calls continue .
So there is no Unity without confession and without Mission. Why confess the same faith, inherit the same mission.
b) Jesus prayed for unity - John 17.9-21
Unity among the disciples was a longing for Jesus, and believe remains. And the main reason is that the union between the disciples glorifying the name of God - v.10
So any division is a scandal that conspire against God and his Church.
The higher the Unity and love among the disciples, credibility acquires our preaching. We can say that the unit is a means of evangelization, because Jesus predicted thus: "…so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” - v.21
Do not forget that the unit is a longing for Jesus, expressed again and again in his prayer.
c) The unit is obtained only by love - main feature of the union between the Father and the Son: John 15.9-13, John 17.3-26.
There is no unity where there is no love. We all know that if a man and a woman decide to get married, it is because love, or at least should be. Without love it is impossible to live together.
Jesus knew this, for in his prayer call for Unity, made it clear that the Father was united in the bonds of  love, and even in relation to the disciples, and that his desire was to see this love present in them : "... in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself  may be in them." John 17:26
Where Jesus is present there is love, because He is love (I John 4:8). At the base of all our internal conflicts is a root of lack of love. When we love our ideas, our way of being , our proposed Church of the brothers who think differently from us, we are conspiring against the Unit, are worshipers of ourselves and not of God, because there is no idea for holier than is, that deserves more love than his brother, whom Jesus died on the cross of Calvary .
Thus, to preserve unity, we must put ahead of any project, the love with which we should love one another. Remembering that Jesus became the servant of all, do not shut your mouth, did not fail to proclaim the truth, but loved and loved to death, even death on the cross: " ...Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name  that is above every name, that  at at the name of Jesus  every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father " - Phl. 2:9-11
4) The unit characteristic of the Church the Body of Christ:
a) All ecclesiological symbols are Unity symbols:
a.1) The Vine  - John 15.
a.2) The Shepherd, and the Sheep - John 10.11-16
a.3) The Foundation and Cornerstone - Ephesians 2:19-22
a.4) The Husband and Wife - Ephesians 5.22s
a.5) The Body - Ephesians 1:22-23, I Corinthians 12, etc.
b) Unit as experience since Pentecost: Acts 2.1-13
The account of the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost is accompanied by the statement that they were all gathered together, united in hopes that had been given by Jesus . This unit is also reflected in the experience as follows: they are all filled with the Holy Spirit , all come to proclaim the excellencies of God. The experience of language becomes another symbol of Unity, because it breaks the separation that existed between Jews and Jewish proselytes, all is understood, a phenomenon that produces the opposite effect Babel, where, instead of sharing the languages people come to join them in the knowledge of the greatness of God .
c) The unit experience as celebration of faith and tradition of the Church of Acts - Acts 2.42-46
The Church was born of God's purpose, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit developed characteristics that are inseparable from their way of being. We call this tradition, ie a set of experiences and practices that describe who we are, and become symbols of the unity of the Church.
What are they? Unable to decline all but emphasize here those found in Acts 2.42-46 .
c.1) "...the doctrine of the apostles ." This means the teaching of Jesus, the Word to remain within the community, or what some scholars claim to be the synagogue Christian circle, ie teaching space where the faith of the apostles was shared and taught .
c.2) "...the fellowship, to the breaking of bread ..." There was a consequent celebration of faith, ie the cult itself. Where Christian community there has to be an expression of worship and service to God. Along the this celebration was a permanent part of the meal as an expression of profound communion and unity, was celebrated in the form of simple meal . this meal is also a complaint in a world that draws people to the table of the meal .
c.3) "... and in prayers ..." Beside the catechesis and worship was the prayer movement in the Church. Just as there is no Church teaching or no cult, no church without unceasing prayer before God . When Peter was arrested the text of Acts 12.5 says there was unceasing prayer on his behalf .
c.4) "... Fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done ..."
As part of the catechetical tradition, cultic and prayer, supernatural action was that the Holy Spirit worked through the apostles. Are fundamental experiences of the Christian tradition, but it will always damage the unit and tradition wish to summarize the nature of the Church to one of these moments, or even delete them.
c.5) "…those who believed were together and had everything in common ... distributed among all as they had needs…"
In the inevitable consequence of sharing the faith, the bread and experiences, was a compromise with those who had less, and even more so with those who had nothing .
To divide the property, giving is a requirement of the Church born at Pentecost . It is also the teaching of Jesus ... "more blessed to give than to receive ..." acts 20:35
We live in a society with traces perverse and anti - Christians do not get or when you give is to receive more, this effort we meet here is a way of giving life and time to build a fairer world. Clearly feel the presence of God in it .
No Unit inequality, unfair labor relationship, the lack of housing, health and work with fair wages. It is a challenge to the unity of the Church fair share of resources.
d) Unit as a testimony to the growth of the Kingdom of God - Acts 2:47
The life of the Church of Acts has caused a very strong impact in Jerusalem , and the reason is that described  before in point C, ie the way of being the Church, that conveyed reverence, fellowship, love, solidarity and power of God .
The natural result of this testimony of community life was: "... praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people." Acts 2:47
e) Unit : a call to the churches of Paul - Rm. 15.5-6, I Co.1.10, Eph . 4.3.
Paul exercised at least two major ministries : the first was the ministry of evangelization, and proclamation of the Kingdom, which was converted by bringing together and organizing in churches. The second was to preserve and maintain these united churches, through the Ministry Supervisor - Episkopos ( Bishop ), which he accomplishes by letters personally or through auxiliary (Timothy, Titus and Epaphroditus) .
I think the hardest part was to keep the flock together. His zeal for unity was so great, that it takes a long prison impassioned :  "... endeavoring to preserve the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph.4.3
Paul knew that the lack of unit, weakens the Church, so his constant appeal to all churches .
What can you say after hearing the God´s words speaks in so many ways about Unity and Fraternity of Communion?
One can even say, that we have not done yet all we can on behalf of the Unit. Proof of this, is that there are factions among us, but God expects our commitment to turn into actions by the Unit.
Finally, yes, it is time to seek unity and fraternity, as we have seen, God intends us to relate in love, this will help us build a more just and fraternal community, church and world.

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