Unity is hard to describe. Expressed in music, it occurs when every note is in harmony. In politics, it comes about through debate and compromise. And expressed mathematically, as in today’s first reading, it is expressed in a number: one Lord, one faith, one baptism. This is the unity St. Paul encourages the Church to pursue at all costs, but as Christian history shows us, unity is both precious and rare.
Most people want to experience real unity; after all, who enjoys division and rejection? Who likes being separated and isolated from other people? So, how do we achieve unity? St. Paul’s advice is a good place to start: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love.”
So unity requires humility. Accepting that other people are just as important and loved by God as we are, is vital. Our fallen nature likes to think of the world revolving around us—but it doesn’t. We push to get our own way, or at least to have the last word. But humility seeks to build up other people and to make sure their voices are heard and their concerns are acknowledged.
St. Paul also urges us to be patient with each other. He knows that unity takes time. It must be cultivated and maintained. Few things bring about unity more powerfully than the decision to sacrifice our own agenda for the good of others.
Finally, St. Paul gives us the most important key to unity: the Holy Trinity. One Spirit … One Lord … One God. How does their unity look? Jesus obeys the Father. The Holy Spirit speaks the words of Jesus to us. The Father glorifies the Son. Each Person honours the others before himself. If we want to create, and maintain, an environment of unity, we must start by contributing to an environment of honour, where we must look to each other’s needs before our own.