A reflection for the second Sunday of Easter

Brian Fraga reflects on the readings for April 16, 2023.
Catholic Voices

Readings (Year A):

Acts 2:42 – 47
Psalms 118:2 – 4, 13 – 15, 22 – 24
1 Peter 1:3 – 9
John 20:19 – 31

Reflection: God desires unity

Anyone who has served in the military—whether it was in the Army, the Marines, the Navy, or the Airforce—will almost always tell you that the one thing they truly loved about the Armed Forces, that they never quite experienced in the same way in civilian life, was the camaraderie they had with their fellow servicemen and women.

Not only do you work every day with the same people; you often live with them in the barracks. You go out and drink together. You socialize together. You watch television in each other’s rooms and get to know their families. You deploy together, and you share a common mission. You keep each other alive in dangerous situations, and do what you can to boost each other when morale is flagging.

You’re not just coworkers or colleagues; it’s really like being brothers and sisters. And that bond is for life.

I think of that camaraderie whenever I read accounts of what life was like in the early Christian community, as we do in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Today we hear how the early Christians not only devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles, but also to the communal life. They prayed together in the temple. They ate together in each other’s homes. They even shared property, and would split the proceeds from the sales of that property to make sure everyone had what they needed.


This holy camaraderie was so appealing, that we read in Acts that this community enjoyed favor with all people, which contributed to God “adding to their number” every day.

That harmonious Christian community seems like a far cry from where we are as a church 2,000 years later. Today, the Catholic Church, particularly in the United States, is as polarized and divided as our secular society. Democrats and Republicans. Liberals and Conservatives. Modernists. Traditionalists. Labels, accusations and insults are hurled at one another, especially online and through social media. We may share a common baptism, but it often seems that we share little else.

That kind of acrimony, mutual suspicion, and hatred are not what Jesus intended for his disciples. Elsewhere in the gospels we read that Jesus prayed to God that God’s disciples be one, as Jesus and the Father are one.

A fruit of the authentic Christian life, a true gift of the spirit, is unity. The scriptures show us that God desires unity for God’s people. Division, to borrow a spiritual insight from St. Ignatius of Loyola, comes from a bad spirit that seeks to destroy and undermine the integrity not only of individuals, but of the communities to which they belong. Division breaks up a community, whether it’s a rock band, a sports team, a family, a church congregation, or even a platoon. Division is deadly, especially when you need to trust one another in dangerous situations, like on the battlefield, for example.

This is not to say that unity means everyone having the same point of view, or the same opinion on everything. I can assure you that my fellow soldiers and I definitely did not agree on everything. And yes, those disagreements could sometimes get heated. I wouldn’t be surprised if the early Christians that we read about today also had some animated disagreements from time to time in first century Judea. But even so, they would not have let those disagreements divide them. They kept sight of the big picture. They still prayed alongside and broke bread with each other. They followed the God’s command to love one another. And that in the end is what will evangelize an unbelieving world.


About the author

Brian Fraga

Brian Fraga is a staff reporter at the National Catholic Reporter. He covers news pertaining to the Catholic Church in the United States. He was previously a contributing editor at Our Sunday Visitor and has written for a variety of Catholic publications over the last decade.

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