Do you have a favorite Scripture verse? Something from the Word of God that brings you comfort, inspires you to holiness, or gives you a sense of mission?
Recently, Msgr. Stuart Swetland, host of Go Ask Your Father™, shared one of his favorite Scripture verses, which is especially poignant for the culture we live in. He shared that, “One of my favorite verses is in the Old Testament and it’s ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.’ That’s from the beginning of Psalm 133.”
But Msgr. Swetland pointed out that while unity is good, pleasant, and downright powerful, it is ever more rare in the interactions we see in the world today.
“Unity, collaboration, cooperation is not something that’s on the forefront or the front burner in many places in the world today – even among the churches and ecclesial communities,” he said. “But when it is it’s a real, good, and pleasant thing to experience. Indeed, how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
Msgr. Swetland explained that he recently was able to witness an instance where there was an effort toward unity where once there had been division. As the president of Donnelly College in Kansas City, KS, he has seen the back and forth between the Kansas and Missouri side of Kansas City. For years the two sides have tried to poach companies and jobs from the other, which has negatively affected the region. Msgr. Swetland had a front-row seat to the meeting of both sides as they worked toward a truce and tried to work together for the good of their communities.
“But what really moved me was, without any prompting, when one of the governors spoke about, ‘Isn’t it time that Republicans start working with Democrats and Democrats start working with Republicans to get things done for the common good?'” Msgr. Swetland recounted. “And just spontaneously, the entire Memorial Hall broke into applause that went on for more than a minute.”
“People are so tired of seeing people not work together that even the smallest step toward working together is met with huge applause and great thanksgiving,” he continued. “Well, if that’s true on something as relatively small as the cooperation between two sides of the same city across state lines here in Kansas City, how much more important that is for us on the spiritual level, on the level of religious values to work together, to cooperate, to see our joint effort to build up the Kingdom.”
Msgr. Swetland pointed to paragraph 42 of Gaudium et Spes, in which the Council fathers remind us that the union of the family of man is greatly consolidated and perfected by the unity which Christ established among the children of God.
“In other words, the unity of the body of Christ helps the unity of the rest of the human race,” he said. “And we’re called to build up that union. The Council goes on to remind us that Christ did not bequeath to the Church a mission in the political, economic, or social order. The purpose He assigned to the Church was a religious one. This religious mission can be the source of commitment, direction, and vigor to establishing and consolidating the community of man according to the law of God.”
As members of the body of Christ, this purpose that Christ assigned to the Church is our purpose and mission – and that should inspire us to work toward sanctifying and unifying the world in Christ.
“It is particularly the role of the laity to sanctify the world,” Msgr. Swetland said. “So we’ve got a lot of work to do. But it is possible that people can work together for the common good. We can work together in our non-profits, we can work together in our schools, we can work together in the political realm. If only we would.”
“But most importantly, people of faith must work together to build up God’s Kingdom and serve Him as he would have us serve Him. How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
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Listen to the full reflection on unity below: