What kind of life within the Church would we live if we inwardly accepted that the divisions that separate our Churches are shadow, not form, and that that the walls that segregate us do not reach to Heaven? Division and tribalism are a product of our worst natures, not the holy nature that Christ calls us to.
Paul, writing to the Church in Corinth:
And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual ones, but as to fleshly, as to babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk and not with solid food, for you were not yet able to bear it; nor are you able even now. For you are yet carnal. For in that there is among you envyings and strife and divisions, are you not carnal, and do you not walk according to men? For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to each? I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he who plants anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. So he planting, and he watering, are one, and each one shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For of God we are fellow-workers, a field of God, and you are a building of God. – 1Cor 3:1-9 (MKLV)
St. John Chrysostom (ca. 354-407 A.D.), from his Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians:
“It was the factionalism of the Corinthians that produced jealousy, and that in turn made them carnal. Once they were carnal, they were no longer free to hear truths of a more spiritual kind . . . The building does not belong to the workman, but to the master. If you are a building, you must not be split in two, since then the building will collapse. If you are a farm, you must not be divided but rather surrounded with a single fence, the fence of unanimity.”
From the writings of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I (1886-1972):
“But we Orthodox: are we worthy of Orthodoxy? Up till the efforts we have made in recent years, what kind of example have our Churches given? We are united in faith and united in the chalice, but we have become strangers to one another, sometimes rivals. And our great tradition, the Fathers, Palamas, the Philokalia: is it living and creative in us? If we are satisfied to repeat our formulas, hardening them against our fellow Christians, then our inheritance will become something dead. It is sharing, humility, reconciliation which makes us truly Orthodox, holding the faith not for ourselves – if we did that we should simply be affirming yet one more historic confession of faith – but for the union of all, as the selfless witnesses of the undivided Church.”
Pray for the unity of our faith and the reconciliation of our Churches. Please pray with your heart, but also with your hands.