Written by Sr. Rosemary, O.P.
Readings from: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/110519.cfm
If we had a civics lesson quiz right now, how many of us would know what the motto of our United States is? Honestly, I had to recall it myself: it’s “E Pluribus Unum” which is Latin for ‘Out of many, one.’
It was adopted as our national motto in 1776 and refers to the Union formed by the separate states. It’s found on the Great Seal of the United States and on our currency. Originally, it referred to the uniting of the varied colonies into one nation. Later generations saw it as an expression of the diversity of nationalities and cultures that would soon populate the United States.
As revolutionary as that motto was for our nation in 1776, St. Paul was talking about that same concept in the 1st century. In our first reading, Paul is challenging the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome to become one body, to put differences of culture aside, to use their unique gifts and talents well, and love one another. He was passionate in promoting that love should exist first among the Christians themselves and he’s setting the bar high for them because Christians are called to live a higher calling. And, finally, he is urging them to pull together to work for the common good. Through the words of his letter, Paul is giving us the same message today.
Paul also goes on to present a series of behaviors for Christians to follow that will express their love. What is so obvious is that the principle at work in all of them is charity, and ultimately, these gifts, instructions, and down to earth suggestions, are to be offered in service to others:
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.
They are, and are meant to be, quite challenging! To Paul, all talk about God was worthless unless it made a difference in how people lived. He makes it clear that both the common pursuit of the good, and the common good, are expected of those who are members of the Body of Christ.
Our baptismal commitment and Catholic teaching requires us to speak up for the voiceless…. the unborn children, immigrants, poor women and children, the medically uninsured, etc., all those, as a matter of fact, who are called to the banquet table in our Gospel today. This is Jesus’ vision…that no one is excluded, that we must have the same attitude toward all. The message of this uncommon kingdom feast is the same for us as it was in Paul’s time: that we’re ultimately called to use our gifts and talents to promote the common good and, most importantly, to love one another.