Theodore, sx –
It is amazing to see that at least once a year many Christians become aware of the great diversity of ways of worshiping God. Hearts are touched, and people realize that their neighbours’ ways are not so strange. The event that touches off this special experience is called the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Traditionally celebrated between 18 to 25 of January or at Pentecost, the Week of Prayer enters into congregations and parishes all over the world. Pulpits are exchanged, and special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services are arranged. This week dedicated to praying for the unity of all Christians is a powerful testimony which all those who have welcomed Jesus Christ in their lives as Saviour and only son of God give to the world. If in the past, different Christian denominations have fought and killed each other because of religion, today more chances are given to create a space wherein they meet and talk face to face in order to live out the true message of Gospel brought by the prince of peace Jesus.
For this year 2014, the World Council of Churches (WCC) which is a worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service has come out with this theme: “Has Christ been divided? (1Cor 1:1-17) This word sent by Paul to the small community of Corinth shows all its tenacity and relevancy in our Christian world which tends to get divided into different parts. The theme called us to foster unity due to the fact that our master did not divide his disciples whereas he gathered them even after their denials and betrayals. For the WCC, our apparent differences or ways of conceiving the same reality who is God should not lead us astray from what is essential: we are God’s children. The WCC invites each one of us to look for ways to foster this unity in his own life by being open and considerate towards others’ beliefs and teachings.
It should be said that no unity is possible if we firmly hold to our own points of views and teachings as immovable; this attitude brings about divisions and leads to fundamentalism which pushes some Christian to kill in the name of God. Praying for Christian unity implies being aware of the truth contained in other religions as we can read in one of the Vatican II documents: “The Church acknowledges that some elements of truth can be found in other religions.” This simple phrase is playing a leading role in our way of dealing with other religious confessions. While praying for this goal, we should bear in minds some questions:
1. What is my attitude towards other Christian Churches?
2. Am I fundamentalist regarding some points of the Church teaching?
3. Am I open minded to let other believers talking to me about God?
4. Do I think as Catholic believers we hold the monopoly on God’s revelation?
5. Am I convinced that God’s salvation is intended to all regarding their belief?
Being able to give a personal answer to these five questions may be a giant step in implementing unity with ourselves before making it with our friends of other religious confessions. No unity is possible if we do not undergo the process of personal inventory of our faith. Let us join in prayer the thousands of Christian throughout the world who are doing their best to foster and attain this unity despite the difficulties and at the same time, pray for all those who are still fundamentalist and closed to any change in their beliefs.