The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in 1908 and focused on prayer for Church unity. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to 25th January. During this Week we are called to celebrate our diversity and be faithful to Christ’s call for the unity of his Church.
Once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “They May Be One So That the World May Believe,” (John 17:21) and therefore Christians come together to pray for this unity. The dates for the Week of prayer for Christian Unity commences on the feast of St. Peter’s Chair on January 18 and concludes with the feast of the Conversion of St Paul on 25 January.
This year the congregations and parishes all over the world are called to focus on the Theme for 2016: “Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of the Lord”(1 Peter 2:9). St. Peter tells the early Church that by hearing and encountering the Gospel they had become from “no people” to “God’s Chosen People” and have received the power of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. By virtue of our baptism, it opens up an exciting new journey of faith in our lives, uniting each new Christian with God’s people throughout the ages.
The universal Church is taking active steps to reunite and to bring together the separated members into one Body of Christ. If only all Christian ministers and leaders had the spirituality and humility of Paul to be loyal to Christ and His Church, then the unity of all Christians in Christ would be a much more of a reality today. We need the right attitude, in that we all belong to one faith, one Church, one baptism, one faith in Christ Jesus.
Do we see in the world around us the need for more love, peace and unity today? As we celebrate these two pillars of the one Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church of Christ and as we pray for Christian unity, let us decide, as individuals and as a community, to work towards healing the wounds of division among Christians. Although the week of Prayer for Christian unity will soon come to an end, we must first pray and work for the unity among ourselves as Catholics before we reach out to the members of the different churches to be bound together and for unity to become reality. It is time to repent and reform our offences. We need not wait for the season of Lent to repent but let us ask for the courage to start doing it now, not just praying about it. Amen!