WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
Ways to Christian Unity
This week, the Second Week in Ordinary Time, is dedicated for a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which begins on Tuesday. Unity is something that we, as Catholics, should not only promote but must put into practice. We belong to a Church that’s ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC. These are marks that identify us with our source, who is Christ - the source of ONENESS, HOLINESS, CATHOLICITY AND APOSTOLICITY. And so, as we work for unity, let me point out three things (out of the many) taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph #820.
1. FAITHFULNESS TO THE TEACHINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. Commitment on this regard entails performing our very mission to teach or preach the Good News. For everyone’s information, the proclamation of God’s word plays FIRST among any other roles we play as baptized Christians even for priests. Some might think (as I used to think when I was yet a seminarian) that priests’ primary task is to celebrate Mass or administer the sacraments. But NO! The primary task of the priest and so it is for all of us baptized is to preach the GOOD NEWS!
Jeff Cavins, whose Bible Study Guide we follow in this parish, once narrated a story of a class in English. In that class they were discussing about the use of the pronouns, “Thou, thine, thy, etc.” and so the teacher started saying the “Our Father” as an example. And so she goes, “Our Father, who art thou in heaven. Hallowed be thy name…”and then she stopped as she doesn’t know the rest of the prayer. A bit embarrassed, she asked any volunteer from her students to finish the prayer. But, lo and behold, there wasn’t anybody except for one girl who was formed by her parents properly with basic catechesis. And so, she stood up and finished the rest of the prayer for the entire class.
Are we one of this girl who knows her prayers or are we one of this teacher who teaches and yet doesn’t even know how to say the Our Father? If we are to bring about Christian unity, we have to walk in harmony with the teachings of the Catholic Church. But we cannot walk with it unless, we KNOW and UNDERSTAND what it is. And yes, we can start by memorizing the “Our Father.”
2. CHRISTIAN WITNESSING THROUGH HOLINESS OF LIFE. Witnessing is very vital for Christian unity. The gift of understanding from the Holy Spirit sheds light to both types of insight of human intelligence: the theoretical and the practical. This gift helps us understand the truth of the faith and also see how it applies to our practical life, its implications to Christian living. If we work for Christian unity, we should, therefore, make sure that we don’t dichotomize these two realities of human intelligence.
A young woman teacher explains to her class of small children that she is an atheist. She asks her class if they are atheists too. Not really knowing what atheism is but wanting to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like fleshy fireworks.
There is, however, one exception. A beautiful girl named Lucy has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different.
"Because I'm not an atheist." Then, asks the teacher, "What are you?"
"I'm a Christian." The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Lucy why she is a Christian.
"Well, I was brought up knowing and loving Jesus. My mom is a Christian, and my dad is a Christian, so I am a Christian.” The teacher is now angry. "That's no reason," she says loudly. "What if your mom was bad, and your dad was a bad. What would you be then?"
She paused, and smiled. "Then," says Lucy, "I'd be an atheist."
So, there you see, children do listen to teachers and much more children do listen to parents who are true to their Christian identity and are true Christian witnesses.
3. CHANGE OF HEART, “METANOIA.”Unity has been one of those things that Jesus prayed for. In fact, his last will and testament while praying in the garden of Gethsemane was that “All may be one …” Ut unum sint. In order that unity be achieved, we have to be converted first and have a change of heart. Sin divides us from God and from each other. Therefore, in order that we may be united, we have to start from self-purification and ask for God’s forgiveness that, we too, may become channels of peace and unity. The Sacrament of Reconciliation serves as avenue for that purification and reconciliation with God.
Healing the wounds of division among different faiths may take sometime. Young people of today are called to do something even in the little things that they can do. Start with your classmates and ask for their religious background and from there initiate dialogue. Again, before doing so, make sure that you are confident enough of knowledge of your faith. A simple dialogue could stir unity and a good Christian relationship. Gone are the days where the attitude was that of suspicion among Christian denominations. Now is the time to be united. To be in accord with each other. To follow the direction where Christ leads us. We pray for Christian unity … we pray for the gift of understanding that we may live holy lives praying for Christian unity.