Beginning of Week of Prayer For Christian Unity – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
This Sunday occurs as we begin the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Before considering unity among the broader Christian community, we have to consider unity among Roman Catholics. There are evident divisions, so often rooted in ideology and our various ways of celebrating the Eucharist and who can minister in what ways.
There are even divisions concerning relatively sensible matters such as the wearing of masks during the COVID crisis. Most days at the celebration of the Eucharist, one of my personal prayers is for those working with Pope Francis, but also those working against the Pope.
One would think that some members of the College of Cardinals would have in mind the peace and unity of the Church. I find it a sad statement about our Church that there are individuals spreading division and actively working against unity.
Prayers for peace and unity are always necessary, for the Catholic community and for the greater Christian community. The skirmishes and divisions have been there from the birth of the church. Take a look at the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of Saint Paul.
Division and discord have a long history, whether between individuals or nations or faith traditions. The discord between Cain and Abel has been always with us. We cannot be united into one, like a melting pot. We can try all we like, but we have enough fundamental differences that we will never be one.
Nor should we be alike and forget our unique qualities! We need to celebrate and find hope in the very diversity of paths. That is part of why I have always appreciated Canada’s contrast to the melting pot. We speak of a mosaic, a whole composed of many little pieces.
This is the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year’s theme is from the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel: Abide in My Love … You Shall Bear Much Fruit. To abide in Jesus’ love is a reminder that we live in a community of diversity that is striving for unity.
We pray for the grace of closer communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are living in a strange period of world history, certainly something that most of us know nothing about. We are likely discovering more about how small the world really is.
Are there any helpful words or images from scripture today? I like the image of the exceedingly large city of Nineveh. The city was an important junction for commercial routes crossing the Tigris on the path between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. In other words, the city served to unite the East and the West. Sounds pretty uniting to me!