United we stand

By Father Chris Thomas

I was recently talking to a man from Romania who sells the Big Issue not too far from where I live. He told me that since the referendum on Europe he was constantly being taunted by groups of young people who were telling him he'd soon be going home and he had no place in this country. As he shared this with me, the tears were tripping down his face and I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of shame that we have come to this.

Whatever stance you might have taken on our place in Europe, the Gospel invites us always to be compassionate, loving and on the side of those in need. Not to take that stance, even in these troubled times, is to be less than faithful to the call of the Gospel. It can never be right to be angry, bitter and exultant at other's misfortune, which is the experience my Romanian friend is having.

It strikes me that in the heart of God there is no room for separation or division. God is perfect unity and we, as individuals and a community, are made in the image and likeness of God. Blame, separation and scapegoating never show the face of God to the world. So how can we let suspicion and fear rear its ugly head? How can we let struggles for power, jockeying for position and wanting our own way destroy the simple call to be united in love? How can we create camps of the like-minded that become exclusive rather than inclusive when all the time that fails to show God's face to the world?

I guess that's why I think we need to hear again the call to unity, to come together and to do as much as we possibly can to stand against the scandal of disunity. To live a fully Christian life is to give our lives for unity. That will change our image of God. It will challenge us deep within as we have to let go of our need to be right and for others to be wrong. It will call us into relationship with others who see things differently but it will bring us and others life and we will show the face of God to the world.

So, in our troubled times, let's mirror the reality of God and work for unity and all that means. Let's give our lives for acceptance of difference, welcome and compassion.