Today (Tuesday, January 25) marks the eighth and final day in the eight day Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. During this week, daily scripture references, meditations and prayers are offered for readers’ reflection. (Material provided courtesy of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute).
Day 8, Called out by the Word we have heard.
Genesis 33:1-4, Esau ran to meet Jacob, and embraced him… and they wept.
Psalm 96:1-13, Say among the nations, “The Lord is King!”
2Corinthians 5:17-21, God… reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
Matthew 5:21-26, Leave your gift before the altar, and go: first be reconciled to your brother or sister.
Our prayers of this week have taken us on a journey together. Here we have seen devotion to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. At the end of our reflections we return to our own contexts — the realities of division, discontent, disappointment and injustice. Concluding this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the question is posed: to what, then, are we called, here and now?
We pray for Christian unity so that the Church might be a sign and instrument for the healing of divisions and injustices and for the growing in understanding between people of all faiths. In our personal and family lives, too, the call to reconciliation must find a response. Jacob and Esau are brothers, yet estranged. Their violence and the habits of anger are put aside as the brothers meet and weep together.
The recognition of our unity as Christians leads us into the Psalm’s great song of praise for the Lord who rules the world with loving justice. In Christ, God seeks to reconcile to Himself all peoples. St. Paul celebrates a life of reconciliation as “a new creation.” The call to reconcile is the call to allow God’s power in us to make all things new.
This “good news” calls us to change the way we live. As Jesus challenges us in St. Matthew’s gospel, the call to prayer for Christian unity is a call to reconciliation. The call to reconciliation is a call to action.
God of Peace, we thank you that you sent your Son Jesus, so that we might be reconciled to yourself in him. Give us the grace to be effective servants of reconciliation within our churches. Fill us with love for one another and may our unity serve the reconciliation that you desire for all creation. We pray in the power of the Spirit. Amen.