January 17, 2017

2017 Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians

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Sunday, January 15th, marked the beginning of the "2017 Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians". The current octave of prayer for the promotion of unity takes its impetus from 2 Corinthians 5:14-20, the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians:

"For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. 15 He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. 17 So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God"

This biblical text emphasizes that reconciliation is a gift from God, intended for the entire creation. "God was reconciling the world (kosmos) to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us" (v. 19). As a result of God's action, the person who has been reconciled in Christ is called in turn to proclaim this reconciliation in word and deed: "The love of Christ compels us" (v. 14). "So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (v. 20). The text stresses that this reconciliation is not without sacrifice. Jesus gives his life; he died for all. The ambassadors of reconciliation are called, in his name, to give their lives similarly, for the good of all. They must no longer live solely for themselves; they must live for him who died for them.

Prayer for Christian Unity

Eternal Father, God of all goodness, we praise you for sending your Son to be one of us, and for reconciling us and the whole world to yourself in Christ. Look upon your people with mercy, for we are divided in so many ways, and give us the Spirit of Jesus to make us one in love. Heal our hearts and help us to spread your peace. We ask for this gift, loving Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For more see the Pontifical Council for the of Promoting Christian Unity.

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