Once again we find ourselves with that little footnote in the Church or liturgical calendar reminding us that we have arrived at Church Unity Week.
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY (18-25 JANUARY)
In fairness it is not a ‘little footnote’ for everybody. It will be celebrated officially by the diocese as it will be by some groups around the diocese. We should also note with gratitude the work done by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. In the main this year’s prayer has been prepared by Christians from Indonesia. We, here in St. Matthews, are of course blessed to have our own Fr Justin with us, who is himself from Indonesia. Not forgetting our deacon, Yambo, from China.
Now more than ever our Sisters and Brothers in Christ who have been part of what we call the underground Church in China cry out for our prayer and support. Yes of course we must carry them in our hearts in prayer, but we must do more. We must lend them our ears. We must listen to them intently. We must also give them our voice. We must with the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit to speak up on their behalf.
We must also remember our sisters and brothers in Indonesia.
Let me quote from the Liturgical Calendar for Ireland 2019….
‘With a population of 265 million, about 10% of Indonesians are Christian from various traditions.
There is a great diversity of ethnicity, language and religion. There are also tensions affecting politics, business, justice, wealth and poverty. Christian communities in such an environment become newly aware of their unity as they join in a common concern and a common response to an unjust reality. At the same time, confronted by these injustices, we are obliged, as Christians, to examine the ways in which we are complicit. Only by heeding Jesus’ prayer ‘that they may all be one’ can we witness to living unity in diversity. It is through our unity in Christ that we will be able to combat injustice and serve the needs of its victims.
Moved by these concerns, the Christians of Indonesia found that the words of Deuteronomy, ‘Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue’ ( see Deut 16: 18-20 ) spoke powerfully to their situation and needs. As individual Christians and communities, we are called together to form a united witness for justice and to be a means of Christ’s healing grace for the brokenness of the world’.
I think the danger for us here in St. Matthew’s in Ballyfermot is that we see the whole notion of Christian Unity as something that belongs to the big picture, a global, or universal Church issue that has little or no bearing on the local Church. This could really allow us to shirk our responsibilities. The call to unity must always be remembered as a response to the heartfelt desire of the Lord himself. The prayer of the Lord is that his followers are formed, and live in unity.
In response we here in St. Matthew’s can do a number of things:
- Pray for Church Unity
- Reach out to Christians of different denominations eg Ballyfermot Church in Drumfinn
- Attend the Prayer for Church Unity Friday 18th January at 8pm, St John the Baptist, Church of Ireland, Seafield Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3
- Check ourselves for spreading false information about people’s faith, including derisory jokes
- Encourage Fr Justin and Deacon Yambo to tell us more about their respective cultures.
Our contribution may well be small but it should exist.