Thus says the Word of God:
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
(Romans 15:7, ESV)
The world where we live, despite all the empty speeches and platitudes on world peace and unity, is becoming more and more fragmented each day. This has been true since the very Fall of humanity. Sin –separation from God– also implied the mutual alienation of our race and the breakup of families and communities. We also have to acknowledge, to our regret and shame, that this divisiveness is also perceived in the Church and it has been so since its very beginning, despite the fervent prayer of our Lord that we all might be one (John 17:21). How many times we have come to regret divisions in our churches! Too many times these divisions were due to matters without importance, out of vanity or pride; but sometimes there were important issues at stake that left us with no other choice than separation.
But we know that this is not God’s idea. The Apostle reminds us of that, pointing out clearly what is the main effecting agent of Christian unity: “Therefore welcome one another.” Notice that the Apostle does not mention feelings or emotions, or some abstract and vague idea. Real Christian unity is achieved obviously through love; but St. Paul says here with devastating clarity that unity is achieved with the sacrificial and obedient practice of Christian love. We need to welcome and accept our brother, letting him enter in that intimate space of ours that we would like to tenaciously defend from outsiders; we must let our brother know that in the same way he is welcomed by Christ he will be welcomed by us without fear of rejection or eviction.
Finally, we should bear in mind two aspects of Paul’s advice: firstly, we see that since Christ is our model, we also should pay Christ’s price; we have to pay the highest price possible to love our brother. The practice of Christian love proposed by Paul is hard and difficult. Secondly, our motivation should be nothing less and nothing more than God’s glory. We show this love, we welcome our brother in our intimate beings, not out of goodness, not for our own good, or any other motivation. We should do so because God’s will is that we might do so. To welcome our brother in this way is, then, an act of discipline and obedience.
May the Lord allow us to be agents and promoters of unity in the practice of Christian love, for His glory.
Our Lord and Father, who loved us first and sent your Son Jesus Christ to save us: Let us, by your Holy Spirit, express Your love to our brethren in the faith during our live, so that we might follow the example of your Son, who loved us to death, and death on a cross. By Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.