Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

March 13, 2009

Christian Unity

This past year, God has really placed in my heart a desire to pray for and to help foster greater Christian unity. I have been mulling over this passage from John 17 (verses 18-24) for months:
As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one: I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me. Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me may be with me; that they may see my glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world.

I love this part of John 17, but I'd recommend meditating on the whole chapter. What a magnificent prayer of Our Lord to be prayed right before His Passion! Almost as if He just saw the whole history of Christianity right before His very eyes! Christ prays for us to be one--so that the world may know who He is. What a scandal it is for us to squabble amongst ourselves, and yet real divisions, deep wounds divide His followers. But how are we to show others who Christ is if we cannot even agree among ourselves? Where do we begin to heal this very real wounds that fracture His sacred, mystical body and separate us from each other?

Recently the Pope came out with a statement on the priority for Christian unity. He writes that unity is essential for leading the world to God. Let me just quote his most beautiful and eloquent words:
The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God. Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith -- ecumenism -- is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light -- this is interreligious dialogue. Whoever proclaims that God is Love "to the end" has to bear witness to love: in loving devotion to the suffering, in the rejection of hatred and enmity -- this is the social dimension of the Christian faith, of which I spoke in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est.

Let us reflect this Easter on the priority of Christian unity, for it was one of the last and most fervent prayers of Our Lord on His way to Calvary...
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