Today we honour the memory of Saint Margaret of Hungary who joined the Order in 1245. Margaret had an unusual approach to the religious life, and it’s highly unlikely she would have made it into the novitiate today. And yet Margaret was considered a saint in her own lifetime and many miracles have been attributed to her intercession. Her life, extraordinary as it was, gives us an example of the victory we can have over the world and its many attractions. And we are reminded that we entered the religious life, not to do our own thing and build our own little empires, but to devote our talents and our lives to the common apostolate. Margaret died on this day in 1270 and was canonised in 1943.
The Pharisees and Herodians may have been political enemies, but they had one thing in common: a strong dislike of Jesus. Their shared resentment was so strong, that it caused them to work together to plot against him; this was an unlikely collaboration, but that’s what common causes can do.
If Our Lord’s enemies could come together for a common purpose, how much more should his friends try to overcome their differences and work together for his purposes?
Most Christians would accept that Our Lord’s principal purpose is reconciliation. By his death and resurrection, he has reconciled us to God and brought us together as one family, the Church. This is why divisions among his people strike him so deeply in the heart.
Today begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year’s observance is especially important because it marks the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
It’s interesting to know that Catholics and Lutherans have been in quiet, behind the scenes dialogue for fifty years, and that dialogue has borne some encouraging fruit; nothing really practical, but we have come to a common agreement on justification, one of the biggest points of doctrinal dispute.
Pope Francis is asking us to approach this anniversary highlighting all that we have in common rather than the issues that still divide us. If we can work together in friendship despite our theological differences, then we can bear witness to the love of Christ and begin to break down walls of division.
It’s not just us Catholics kneeling at the foot of the Cross listening to Our Lord’s prayer that we may all be one.