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Apostolate of Ecumenism

 OCTAVE OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

 
THEME OF 2012: A REFLECTION
“We will all be changed by the Victory of our Lord Jesus Christ”
(1 Cor 15:51-58)
 
The material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2012 was prepared by a working group composed of representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and Old Catholic and Protestant Churches active in Poland.
Following extensive discussions in which the representatives of various ecumenical circles in Poland took part, it was decided to focus on a theme that is concerned with the transformative power of faith in Christ, particularly in relation to our praying for the visible unity of the Church, the Body of Christ. This was based on St. Paul’s words to the Corinthian Church which speaks of the temporary nature of our present lives (with all its apparent “victory” and “defeat”) in comparison to what we receive through the victory of Christ through the Paschal mystery.
The history of Poland has been marked by a series of defeats and victories. We can mention the many times that Poland was invaded, the partitions, oppression by foreign powers and hostile systems. The constant striving to overcome all enslavement and the desire for freedom are a feature of Polish history which have led to significant changes in the life of the nation. And yet where there is victory there are also losers who do not share the joy and triumph of the winners. This particular history of the Polish nation has led the ecumenical group who have written this year’s material to reflect more deeply on what it means to “win” and to “lose”, especially given the way in which the language of “victory” is so often understood in triumphalist terms. Yet Christ shows us a very different way!
In 2012 the European Football Championship will be held in Poland and Ukraine. This would never have been possible in years gone by. For many this is a sign of another “national victory” as hundreds of millions of fans eagerly await news of winning teams playing in this part of Europe. Thinking of this example might lead us to consider the plight of those who do not win - not only in sport but in their lives and communities: who will spare a thought for the losers, those who constantly suffer defeats because they are denied victory due to various conditions and circumstances? Rivalry is a permanent feature not only in sport but also in political, business, cultural and, even, church life.
When Jesus’ disciples disputed over “who was the greatest” (Mk 9,34) it was clear that this impulse was strong. But Jesus’ reaction was very simple: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9,35). These words speak of victory through mutual service, helping, boosting the self-esteem of those who are “last”, forgotten, excluded. For all Christians, the best expression of such humble service is Jesus Christ, His victory through death and His resurrection. It is in His life, action, teaching, suffering, death and resurrection that we desire to seek inspiration for a modern victorious life of faith which expresses itself in social commitment in a spirit of humility, service and faithfulness to the Gospel. And as he awaited the suffering and death that was to come, he prayed that his disciples might be one so that world might believe. This “victory” is only possible through spiritual transformation, conversion. That is why we consider that the theme for our meditations should be those words of the Apostle to the Nations. The point is to achieve a victory which integrates all Christians around the service of God and one’s neighbour.
As we pray for and strive towards the full visible unity of the church we - and the traditions to which we belong - will be changed, transformed and conformed to the likeness of Christ. The unity for which we pray may require the renewal of forms of Church life with which we are familiar. This is an exciting vision but it may fill us with some fear! The unity for which we pray is not merely a “comfortable” notion of friendliness and co-operation. It requires a willingness to dispense with competition between us. We need to open ourselves to each other, to offer gifts to and receive gifts from one another, so that we might truly enter into the new life in Christ, which is the only true victory. There is room for everyone in God’s plan of salvation. Through His death and resurrection, Christ embraces all irrespective of winning or loosing, “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3,15). We too can participate in His victory! It is sufficient to believe in Him, and we will find it easier to overcome evil with good.
Over the coming week we are invited to enter more deeply into our faith that we will all be changed through the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ. The biblical readings, commentaries, prayers and questions for reflection, all explore different aspects of what this means for the lives of Christians and their unity with one another, in and for today’s world. We begin by contemplating the Christ who serves, and our journey takes us to the final celebration of Christ’s reign, by way of His cross and resurrection:
a) Day One: Changed by the Servant Christ
The Son of Man came to serve (cf. Mk 10:45)
On this day we encounter Jesus, on the road to victory through service. We see him as the
”one who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life, a ransom for many” (Mark
10:45). Consequently, the Church of Jesus Christ is a serving community. The use of our
diverse gifts in common service to humanity makes visible our unity in Christ.
b) Day Two: Changed through patient waiting for the Lord
Let it be so now, for it is proper to fulfil all righteousness (Mt 3:15)
On this day we concentrate on patient waiting for the Lord. To achieve any change,
perseverance and patience are needed. Prayer to God for any kind of transformation is also an
act of faith and trust in his promises. Such waiting for the Lord is essential for all who pray
for the visible unity of the church this week. All ecumenical activities require time, mutual
attention and joint action. We are all called to co-operate with the work of the Spirit in
uniting Christians.
c) Day Three: Changed by the Suffering Servant
Christ suffered for us (cf. 1 Pt 2:21)
This day calls us to reflect on the suffering of Christ. Following Christ the Suffering Servant,
Christians are called to solidarity with all who suffer. The closer we come to the cross of
Christ the closer we come to one another.
d) Day Four: Changed by the Lord’s Victory over Evil
Overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21)
This day takes us deeper into the struggles against evil. Victory in Christ is an overcoming of
all that damages God’s creation, and keeps us apart from one another. In Jesus we are called
to share in this new life, struggling with him against what is wrong in our world, with
renewed confidence and with a delight in what is good. In our divisions we cannot be strong
enough to overcome evil in our times.
e) Day Five: Changed by the peace of the Risen Lord
Jesus stood among them and said: Peace be with you! (Jn 20:19)
Today we celebrate the peace of the Risen Lord. The Risen One is the great Victor over death
and the world of darkness. He unites His disciples, who were paralysed with fear. He opens
up before us new prospects of life and of acting for His coming kingdom. The Risen Lord
unites and strengthens all believers. Peace and unity are the hallmarks of our transformation
in the resurrection.
f) Day Six: Changed by God’s Steadfast Love
This is the victory, our faith (cf. 1 Jn 5:4)
On this day we concentrate our attention on God’s steadfast love. The Paschal Mystery
reveals this steadfast love, and calls us to a new way of faith. This faith overcomes fear and
opens our hearts to the power of the Spirit. Such faith calls us to friendship with Christ, and
so to one another.
g) Day Seven: Changed by the Good Shepherd
Feed my sheep (Jn 21:17)
On this day the Bible texts show us the Lord strengthening His flock. Following the Good
Shepherd, we are called to strengthen each other in the Lord, and to support and fortify the
weak and the lost. There is one Shepherd, and we are his people.
h) Day Eight: United in the Reign of Christ
To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne (Rv 3:21)
On this last day of our week of prayer for Christian Unity we celebrate the Reign of Christ.
Christ’s victory enables us to look into the future with hope. This victory overcomes all that
keeps us from sharing fullness of life with him and with each other. Christians know that
unity among us is above all a gift of God. It is a share in Christ’s glorious victory over all that
divides.

(The reflection on the theme in English for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2012 was prepared by a working group composed of representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and Old Catholic and Protestant Churches active in Poland and published jointly by The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and The Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches)

Golden Verse

1Korintkarank 7:38

Mhonnttôch aplê ankvar hoklê lagim logn zata to borem korta; ani logn zaina to odik borem korta.