Although it sounds somewhat contradictory, we know that Paul is describing Jesus’ love for us through His ultimate sacrifice. It is as if we all did our penance when He died, except He took on all the suffering and punishment for us—if that doesn’t describe how immensely He loves us, I don’t know what does.
The intensity of Christ’s love has the power to unify us because when He died for us, Paul tells us, He died for all. Not just for Catholics or Orthodox or Protestants or any specific denomination. A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, these are what all Christian denominations should be considered. Despite divisions in the Christian world, despite the obstacles we face, I believe that all denominations should be united because they all have a share in the love of Christ.
I’d like to point to one of the main obstacles we face, which is our focus, in the sense that most of the time we focus more on our differences than on our similarities. For example, in elementary school, I made a friend who belonged to another Christian denomination; from the way she described it, it sounded like she was Evangelical. She would tell me that she and another classmate were the only Christians in the school, which confused me because we were all in a Catholic school.
I thought to myself, “Aren’t I a Christian, even though I identify specifically as a Catholic?” It wasn’t until I learned from one of my Confirmation classes that Christianity is like an umbrella with the different denominations underneath it; so indeed I could call myself both Christian and Catholic.
The next day, I told my friend, “We’re both Christians!” We realized that despite our differences, we share something important: love for Christ. After this, we started to sing a song together called “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love.”
Our friendship became stronger as we began to focus more on our similarities. I believe Christ brought us together to teach us both a lesson. No wonder, I think that if we educate ourselves by talking to Christians of different denominations, we can gain mutual respect and overcome obstacles to achieve unity.
Next to my high school, there is a Christian university, Tyndale. Tyndale welcomes us into their chapel which they keep as a sacred space to have all our special masses. In the chapel, we are all Christians united in Christ. I can see that Christ’s love is something we all share; it has the power to unite us, allow us to reconcile and even allow us to become good friends.
So, let us all come together and sing, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
(Quartarone, 17, is a Grade 12 student at St. Joseph’s Morrow Park Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)