Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 26, 2009
Road to Christian unity paved with deeper faith – hope
Benedict urges Catholics to listen humbly to God's word
BY CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY — Full Christian unity will be a gift from God, but it is something Christians themselves must work for, pray for and experience personal conversion in order to receive, Pope Benedict said.
The pope said God wants Christians to be one, but that can happen only through deeper unity with Christ.
Dedicating his weekly general audience Jan. 21 to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the pope prayed that the week would “stimulate all of us toward a sincere conversion, an increasingly docile listening to the word of God and a faith that is always deeper.”
The theme of the 2009 week of prayer is That They May Become One in Your Hand, a quote from the Book of Ezekiel (37.17)in which God tells the prophet to take two sticks, representing his divided people, and join them together.
“The hand of the prophet that puts the two sticks together becomes like the very hand of God who will gather and unite his people and, finally, all of humanity,” the pope said.
The divisions Ezekiel tried to heal were caused by different groups going their own way and “taking on customs foreign to divine law,” the pope said.
The prophet made it clear to the people that the restoration of their unity could occur only through their conversion and return to the ways of the Lord, he said.
“The vision of Ezekiel is eloquent for the entire ecumenical movement because it highlights the absolute necessity of an authentic, interior renewal in all the members of the people of God, a renewal only the Lord can accomplish, but to which we all must be open,” the pope said.
Like the Israelites, “we, too, have picked up customs far from the word of God.”
THANKS TO GOD
The week of prayer, he said, is an opportunity to thank God for the progress made in ecumenical relations over the past year.
The pope particularly noted the three personal meetings he had with Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople as well as meetings with leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The pope asked people to pray with him that the ecumenical movement would intensify and that the day would come soon when Christians would be united.
“The desire that lives in our hearts is the hastening of the day of full unity, when all the disciples of the one Lord can finally celebrate together the Eucharist, the divine sacrifice for the life and salvation of the world.”