Ephesians 4:1-6
Luke 12: 54-59


Paul often gives the impression that working with the early Christians was no easy matter; that frequent intervention and encouragement were needed to keep them on the straight and narrow. His exhortations to the Ephesians imply that they had been mean, selfish, harsh, and intolerant, indeed a fractious and disparate lot – probably not too unlike us.

Even allowing for the vagaries of translation, Paul’s frustration is evident and like a teacher dealing with wayward children, he cuts to the chase, focusing solely on the principles by which they should live their lives: the unity of the Spirit and the peace that binds them together.

So, what of today? Our Church is characterised not only by its strengths, traditions, weaknesses, and failings, but also by its sheer breadth, its defining catholicity. We are a remarkable mix, incorporating every shade and interpretation of spiritual, cultural, social, political, and gendered life – indeed, a fractious and disparate lot, endlessly arguing about the most appropriate ways of expressing and living our Faith. The recent international survey of women in the Catholic Church highlights this incredible diversity and is an enlightening and sobering snapshot of the Church today as seen through the eyes of the most ignored and under-represented people who call themselves Catholic.

What lessons and instruction then should we heed? Those of an aged, overweight and paternalistic super-bureaucracy, demonstrably steeped in its own self-interest? Or should we listen to Luke and discern for ourselves what is right: to read and interpret the signs of the times in which we live, to include rather than exclude, to look out rather than in, to listen rather than speak to temper dogma with understanding and compassion?

In returning to first principles and animated by the life of Jesus, perhaps we will then recognise the one Body, one Spirit: the one and the same Hope that unites us.

Phil Page  is a member of the St Joseph’s Hobart Parish