There was a very important event this week. I am of course talking about the way the Blues smashed, thrashed and mashed Queensland in the State of Origin. What was it that gave the Blues their sensational victory on Wednesday? Trying to be a shepherd with the smell of the sheep, I asked this of Year Three during the week. The first child said the reason the Blues won was because all the best Queensland players were injured. A second, and I quote, “Because JT wasn’t there.” And a third: because they had been training together. They are of course correct: they won owing to the ‘disunity’ of Queensland and the unity of New South Wales’.
And it is about team unity that Jesus urgently cautions us about today. That if we aren’t team players, we’re stuffed – both personally, and, in the short term, the world as a whole. This should not actually be news to us: we are every day immersed in examples of the urgency unity to be able to flourish – in sporting teams, companies, governments, families and of course our society.
Why is unity the focus today and not all the cool stuff – the tongues of fire, miraculous languages, the wind, the birth of the Church? It’s because unity is what all these things mean: that the Holy Spirit has brought about real unity out of the disorder of the cosmos. And just as he is not a vague waft of holiness, but a person of fire and power, so the unity he brings is not a vague ideal: it’s called the Church.
So this birthday of the Church is also a reminder of how glorious our membership of the Church is, and why are so privileged to be a member of her. It is through the Church that the Trinity heals the Cosmos of the schizophrenia of division from truth, goodness and beauty. And this is the case even when good things happen which are not necessarily in the name of the Church. This is why we have statements like outside the Church there is no salvation. As Vatican II makes clear (CCC#816ff) , this is because the Church is Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, in communion with God the Father, reaching out to save creation, the Holy Spirit’s fire, which nothing can resist, melting down the ice barriers of pride and sin and heresy and being itself the link between every man and woman and cosmic element – the fire of the love of God.
This is why it is no accident that, when Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to his apostles, it comes with it the power to forgive sins. Because what is disunity? Unlike difference and distinction, which only underlines the unity of creation and its creator, disunity attacks the communion of creation and, with diabolical pride and arrogance, challenges the very unity of the Creator. This of course was the sin of Adam and Eve: dividing themselves from communion with God. This is also the name of the devil: diabolos, the divider. So the healing of division, the undoing of cosmic evil, is the forgiveness of sin. This fact dramatically raises our respect for what the little priest does in his little confessional: that in there the Lord of the Cosmos is undoing all cosmic evil – the division between us and God, us and others, us and nature, and, crucially, undoing the very divisions within our hearts.
Isn’t this marvellous? Isn’t it fantastic that the Lord should choose us to have the privilege of being part of Church, when so many others are not? On this most solemn feast of true and eternal unity, let us renounce all in our being which is pride and selfishness, and resolve at every mass and monthly confession to present this disorder to the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Heart of Jesus for healing. Amen.