Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 21, 2008
We pray and hope for Christian unification
Special to the WCR
This time we live in is perhaps one of the most exciting and hope filled eras the Church has seen in 2,000 years.
At first glance though, it doesn't really look so good. The disunity between Christians has grown so wide that those on one extreme no longer recognize those on the other as even being Christian. For some the gap has grown so wide that there is no longer another side, merely "them" and then an empty void.
In my own travels I have often been rebuked for my Catholic beliefs and told that I should turn from the Catholic Church and join theirs if I wished to be a Christian.
In their eyes the Christian faith did not extend to the Catholics.
Others simply look in their own backyard at what they see as a dwindling church and are filled with sadness at what surrounds them (such as empty pews on Sunday).
Yet the work of God through the Church is building a body that has the potential not only to rebuke this age of secularism and relativism but to overcome it with an unfathomable love.
The work taking place at the moment between (in particular) the Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Lutherans is setting a platform from which we are all able to step forward into the world to carry the love of Christ more fully.
Faith without good works is dead (James 2:26) and so is unity. We may well believe the same thing, but unless we put it into action we may as well hold opposing views (we'd get the same result).
In one of Christ's final prayers before the passion he prayed specifically for the complete unity of all people of faith, so that the world could see that the Father has loved us as he has loved the Son (John 17:23).
Our unity must be seen.
The road to unification opens up the door further for Christians world-wide to be living witnesses of love and hope. In order to be united theologically there will need to be tremendous humility, forgiveness, patience and love on behalf of those at the table of discussion.
Each person of faith, whether participating directly in unification talks or not, has a role to play in the unification of the Church.
We are called to pray and we are called to love.
Our role may be somewhat limited in the theological discussions but our role is most urgent in the social unification of the Church (to unite ourselves with the poor, the hurting and the abandoned).
Peace and unity are more than just an absence of war. Unity is putting love into action.
United in love
To be united through force witnesses nothing to the world, but to become united through the fruits of love carries Christ himself to all non-believers and believers who have lost faith with the Church, that is, with "us."
We must never lose hope that love will conquer all, not as an invader but as a saviour. The unification of the world's Christians holds the potential to be the greatest modern-day witness of love the world has seen. Even so, we must always remember that it all begins with our simple, daily "yes" to Christ's love. "Holy Father, we pray for the broken body of Christ, that all Christians may be united in truth and in love, for the glory of your name and for the salvation of souls. Amen."
(Sam Clear is a 28 year old Catholic from Australia who is currently walking around the world as a pilgrimage of prayer, inviting all Christians to pray for unity. For full details on this journey, go to www.ymt.com.au/walk4one or see the story in the Dec. 24 WCR).
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