Preface VIII of the Sundays in Ordinary Time

Preface VIII of the Sundays in Ordinary Time

For more information on the Preface in general, see The Eucharistic Prayer (2) and The Eucharistic Prayer (3)

It’s not by chance that the images used to describe the Church—the People of God, the Body of Christ, and the Temple of the Holy Spirit—all make reference to the Trinity. It is not only the stamp of the Most Holy Trinity that gives the Church her identity, but also her unity.

The Church united by the unity of the Trinity

Long before the Incarnation the Lord looked upon the Israelites enslaved in Egypt and remembered the promises he had made to their forefathers (see Exodus 2:23–25). He sent Moses to them, rescued them from Egypt, and constituted them at Sinai as his People (see Exodus 19:3–8). When they settled in the Promised Land and weren’t faithful to the covenant they’d made the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets to urge them back to the true source of their unity and identity: the Lord. When they didn’t listen they were scattered by their enemies and exiled.

Then God came in Person: the Spirit of the Lord was upon Christ, and those who believed in him entered into a unity that what so profound with God that it was and is called a communion. St. Paul described the unity between the Lord and the Church as one as deep and profound as the unity between husband and wife: “For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church…” (Ephesians 5:29–32).

When his earthly mission concluded and he returned to the Father’s right hand Father and Son sent the Holy Spirit to continue to empower and enable the Church’s unity.

“For, when your children were scattered afar by sin, through the Blood of your Son and the power of the Spirit, you gathered them again to yourself, that a people, formed as one by the unity of the Trinity, made the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit, might, to the praise of your manifold wisdom, be manifest as the Church.”

Sin throughout history has tried to throw up roadblocks along the path to unity not only with God, but among believers. The Church is called to be a sign and instrument of “a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race.” This is a mission for every believer: to deepen in union with God and union with our fellow believers as a sign for the whole human race of how united we can be when we believe in God.

Belief, however, is not enough. It was the blood of Our Lord that tore down the roadblocks and barriers to unity. Through his sacrifice the People of God went beyond the People of Israel to the People of all those who believed in him. As St. Paul reminds us, “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh [were] separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. […] So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:11–22).

If Our Lord was willing to shed his blood so that we would be united with God and with each other, let’s not shy away from abandoning whatever separates us from him or from others.

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