Holy Father's Missionary Intention for January 2011: “That Christians may achieve full unity, witnessing to all the universal fatherhood of God”. Commentary.
Image by treviño via Flickr
Image by treviño via Flickr
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly announced that one of the main aims of his Pontificate is to work for ecumenism, to continue to make progress towards achieving the unity that Christ desires: “May they all be one, as You, Father are in me and I in you, so that they are in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn 17:21). In 1910 the Edinburgh Missionary Conference took place, where “over 1,000 missionaries from diverse branches of Protestantism and Anglicanism, who were joined by one Orthodox guest, met to reflect together on the necessity of achieving unity in order to be credible in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, it is precisely this desire to proclaim Christ to others and to carry his message of reconciliation throughout the world that makes one realize the contradiction posed by division among Christians. Indeed, how can non-believers accept the Gospel proclamation if Christians even if they all call on the same Christ are divided among themselves?... The communion and unity of Christ's disciples is therefore a particularly important condition to enhance the credibility and efficacy of their witness.” (Homily in the Basilica of St Paul, 25 January, 2010).
Unity is a gift we must implore from the Father of Mercy. It is truly sad that the division that has brought shame continues to be present in the Church of Christ. Meaningful dialogue is therefore necessary, along with prayer, in order to move towards unity. The Son of God died on the Cross to destroy the wall of separation, to unite all the scattered sheep of Israel. It is the power of the Cross that can recreate the lost unity, which can repair the lacerations that men have made to the seamless robes of Christ. Christ crucified is the bridge that crosses the abyss that separated us from God, and opens up a new and living path to the Father. Born of woman, crucified for our sins, raised for our justification, the eternal Son gives us the opportunity to be sons and heirs in Him.
In a world marked by religious indifference and even a growing aversion to the Christian faith, we need a new and intensive evangelization, not only among people who have never known the Gospel, but also where Christianity has been spread and is part of the history. For this reason the Holy Father Benedict XVI, during his Homily at Vespers which concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2010 (25 January, Basilica of St Paul), said: “While we journey toward full communion, we are called to offer a common witness in the face of the ever increasingly complex challenges of our time, such as secularization and indifference, relativism and hedonism, the delicate ethical issues concerning the beginning and end of life, the limits of science and technology, the dialogue with other religious traditions. There are also other areas in which we must from now on give a common witness: the safeguard of Creation, the promotion of the common good and of peace, the defence of the centrality of the human person, the commitment to overcome the shortcomings of our time, such as hunger, poverty, illiteracy, and the unequal distribution of goods”.
Just coming together to be one family in Christ, Christians can witness the unique fatherhood of God. At the same time, only where people recognize God as Father can there truly be a sincere fraternity. There can be no family if there is not a common Father. Our prayer therefore, should be persistent and trusting, because it is based on the power of Christ. His Cross breaks down the barriers that we build, because there is only one flock and one shepherd (cf. Jn 10:16) and the world believes. (Agenzia Fides 29/12/2010)