By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton
Monday, January 23, 2017
By the act of calling his apostles and their act of acceptance, Jesus inaugurated their mission. In our own lives, our mission as followers of Christ was inaugurated at Baptism, and is renewed and strengthened in every celebration of the sacraments, especially Eucharist and Penance.
The Friday event in Washington was accompanied by a speech, in which listeners expected to get a sense of the direction that the newly inaugurated mission will take. The roadmap we follow is the Gospel, the teaching of Jesus Christ as handed on in the Church.
Are we faithful to the responsibility accepted on our inauguration day? We know we have responsibilities as citizens to hold our elected officials to account for the trust we place in them, and are usually quick to do so. Do we hold ourselves to account? This is an important question. Indeed, Pope Francis is continually asking us to recall that moment of our "inauguration" through Baptism into the life of faith and to examine our fidelity to our baptismal promises.
St. Paul draws our attention to an inescapable aspect of such a self-examination. Writing to the ancient Christian community at Corinth, and through that letter addressing all Christians, he makes the appeal that there be no division among the followers of Christ. Since Friday's inauguration we have witnessed protest marches that lay bare rather dramatic societal difference. Sadly, divisions in the Church (!!) long predate those of any country. The letter to Corinth shows clearly that the tendency to separation goes back to the Church's very beginning. This is clearly not the will of the Lord, who gave his very life that all may be one.
In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we do well to remember that the one Baptism inaugurated Christians into unity with the one Lord and the one Faith, and, therefore, with one another. As we ponder the impact of a political inauguration, let us not forget our own far more important theological one. By God's grace, may we accept and faithfully follow our Baptismal call to be one in Christ, and thus serve as a sign and instrument of unity in a world whose very visible divisions are causing very real harm.