Christian Unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins this coming Wednesday, 18th January, and ends on the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, 25th January.

The theme for this year was selected by the Minnesota Council of Churches in the USA in the aftermath of the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd and the trial of the police officer responsible for his death. These events brought anguish but also time for the Christian communities to contemplate ways in which they may be complicit in racial injustice. Christian unity is needed as a source of reconciliation and unity.

The theme, taken from the first chapter of the Book of Isaiah (vs 12-18), reflects the prophet’s concern for the oppressed who suffer from injustice and inequality, fed by the hypocrisy that leads to disunity. He teaches that God requires righteousness and justice from all of us, to create the peace and unity that God desires. These virtues originate in God’s love for all, and racism runs counter to this vision. Isaiah’s challenge to do good and seek justice together applies equally to us today.

What is the point of praying for Christian Unity? The bishops who met at the Second Vatican Council stated very clearly:

“The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men and women as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided. Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalises the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.” Decree on Ecumenism: Unitatis Redintegratio.

In Vatican II Documents. Unity is God’s gift, so we must pray for it. Only God in Christ can reconcile us but praying for unity shows we desire to be used by God in his work of reconciliation. Disunity weakens our witness in the world. Praying opens us to God’s healing touch. Jesus prayed that “all may be one”. This will only happen when Christians pray for unity and work for it in our own local context.

Lord Jesus Christ, at your Last Supper you prayed to the Father that all should be one. Send your Holy Spirit upon all who bear your name and seek to serve you. Strengthen our faith in you, and lead us to love one another in humility. May we who have been reborn in one baptism be united in one faith under one  shepherd. Amen

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest