Acts 1: 14; 2:1-4
After the Ascension, we see Mary as the spiritual center around which Jesus’ intimate friends gather. It is precisely while they are hidden together in the Upper Room that the Holy Spirit surprises them, as a wind that fills the common house and then rests on each of them. This house is the Church. The Church is a people. She is the Mystical Body of Christ, in which the Holy Spirit dwells. As Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, so through Him the Church gives birth to the children of God, and each of them is enabled, by the same Spirit, to speak many different languages. How can we keep all together in unity so many different gifts?
We know that our Lord’s last desire was unity. He prayed for it the night before dying. He begged the Father: “That they may be one” (Jn 17:21). How can we avoid the scattering of Christ’s family? We need a “corolla” in which all the rose-leaves can be gathered; we need a rose, a Mystical Rose, as a house for all the baptized. The Lord took care of it. He gave us a Mother, Mary, who could nourish us. Our Lady is a Mother, like the Church He invented, who gives us birth with Baptism and nourishes us with the Eucharist. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, of which we are members. As a body, she develops as she remains herself. We believe in One Church, but the Spirits that dwells in her is dynamic, is Creator and the source of living water.
Blessed Cardinal Newman noticed that the Christian doctrine develops and yet remains the same. Since it is not frozen, Christ, in order to guarantee to His Church unity and truth, wanted to give His authority to Peter, the Apostles and their successors. The Bishops and the Priests are connected in a chain to Peter and the Twelve. They are charged of bringing Jesus’ very message till us, and they update it through the Magisterium. They have the divine power to bring us Jesus’ very presence through the Sacraments. The Lord, before leaving, gave us a family: Mary/the Church as a Mother and Peter/the Pope as a Father. Jesus gave him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 16:16-20). In those days of walled cities, giving over the keys was symbolic of handing over public authority (Is 22:22). To bind and to loose in the Semitic language of the day signified ‘prohibit and permit’. Those keys are able to lock the devil out (Jn 21:17). The Pope and the Bishops, lead by the Holy Spirit, according to the will of Christ, are charged with guiding, regardless their personal inadequacies.
Let’s pray for them with a grateful heart. They make visible the invisible unity in the Church. If we are in communion with the Pope, we won’t be scattered. Let’s gaze upon Jesus while he prays for unity and upon Bernini’s colonnade at St. Peter’s square. What a wonderful image! St. Peter represents that huge embrace in which the Lord wants to gather all of his children. The Church welcomes all the Christians in her womb and she waits for the time in which the unity will be complete. Christ founded one Church, not multiple churches, and in the same Church He desires us to be united. Unfortunately, throughout the centuries we witnessed the scattering of Christians in thousands of different groups, all in love with the Gospel, but divided.
Once separated from the Pope, the Christians invented innumerable denominations, each of them founded on the personal interpretation of the Bible. Is it possible that so many different opinions are all true? Can the state of Iowa be north of the state of Missouri and at the same time be south of it? Can the Eucharist be the real body of Christ and also be just a symbol?
Can Christ accept and at the same time reject abortion? Can the Gospel produce 36,000 truths that contradict each other? In order to preserve unity, faithfulness, and vitality, Christ needed to give the Holy Spirit as a guide to some representative of Him here on earth. This is why it makes sense that the Christians believe that there must be a way Christ wanted to convey the same message for centuries and at the same time to allow a development headed in one direction. This is way we call the Church catholic, because in Greek it means universal, one for all. The petals of the rose, scattered all over, bring within themselves a fragment of short-lived beauty, destined to dry up quickly, once separate from the flower.
This is why the Catholic Church encourages the ecumenical dialogue. Benedict XVI, after praying with our Protestants brothers during his visit in England on the occasion of Newman’s beatification, said: “I come here to join you in imploring the gift of Christian unity. What is the highest good? It is love for God and love for our neighbor. It inspires noble and generous action, to the benefit of the entire human family. It motivates to reach out to one another in love, with the greatest respect for religious traditions different from our own. Once such a respect and openness has been established, peoples of all religions will work together effectively for peace and mutual understanding, and so give a convincing witness before the world. The dialogue of life involves living alongside one another and learning from one another. The dialogue of action brings us together in concrete forms of collaboration in promoting integral human development, working for peace, justice and stewardship of creation. On a level of formal conversation, there is a need not only for theological exchange, but also sharing our spiritual riches, speaking of our experience of prayer and contemplation, and expressing to one another the joy of our encounter with divine love. My dear friends, let me assure that the Catholic Church follows the path of engagement and dialogue out of a genuine sense of respect for you and your beliefs. Catholics will continue to work to build bridges of friendship to other religions, to heal past wrongs and to foster trust between individuals and communities.” (17th September 2010).
Let’s pray for the reconciliation of all Christians to the one, holy Church of Christ and in Jesus ask “That they may all be one so that the world may believe.” (John 17:21) Let’s practice ecumenical dialog. Let’s embrace with gratitude and trust what the Church passes onto us. Mary, Mystical Rose, gather us in you!