The expression is taken from the Acts of the Apostles (4, 32). It means “one heart and one soul.” It was used to describe the way the early Christian believers lived. The full text is as follows: “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belongs to him was his own, but they had everything in common.”
This is the spirit of unity we should develop and have in any grouping we may belong to, be it a family, a class, an office, a community, etc. Our sense of unity should not just be in the level of the physical, professional, social, political, etc. It should involve our heart and soul. In other words, it should involve our whole being.
Can this spirit of unity be doable, given the tremendous amount of differences we have with each other, let alone, our unavoidable conflicts? The quick answer may be No, or at least, that it is doubtful. But if we go by our Christian faith and realize that our spirit of unity has to be founded on God, then it is possible. Precisely the early Christians managed to live it. They lived “cor unum et anima una.”
We need to realize that the spirit of unity we are talking about here is not uniformity which can only take place when things are taken only in their physical aspects. It is a spirit of unity that allows for plurality and variety, where differences are acknowledged and even promoted but used for a common end.
It is a spirit of unity that is spiritual and moral in character. It is a very dynamic spirit, ever active and reactive to any situation, since it is animated by Christian love that can take on anything. It is always in the process of composing and recomposing itself as it responds to the changing demands of the times.
This spirit of unity can only be made possible when it is rooted on the unity of God who are three persons in one God. Let’s remember that we are God’s image and likeness, made children of his through his grace. We are meant to reflect in our life that unity of the Trinitarian God who is full of goodness, love, truth, justice, etc.
This spirit of unity which we should try to live in any grouping we may belong to is never one that leads to elitism. This spirit, if truly inspired by unity of the Trinitarian God, will always have a universal scope, eager to understand and love everyone, including those who may consider themselves as our enemies.
In fact, we don’t restrict ourselves in any grouping only. Our spirit of unity should cover more and more areas and levels, until we reach the universal family of God, the complete communion of saints.
We need to develop the appropriate attitudes and skills to develop this kind of spirit of unity. We have to learn to listen to everyone, including those whose views may different from ours. We have to sharpen our social skills, always thoughtful of the others, knowing how to empathize and sympathize, how to be understanding and compassionate.
From merely sharing things, let’s move toward giving ourselves to others more and more. Let’s not be afraid of the sacrifices involved. Let our differences and conflicts stir the dynamic of complementation. Let’s trust more in Christ’s words that the more we give, the more we will receive from him.
It would be good if we pause from time to time to consider our duties of building up and strengthening this spirit of unity, giving more teeth to our desires for it. We can always come up daily with one concrete detail, no matter how small, to further this duty of ours./WDJ