On the prayers for the Week of Christian Unity marked every year on January 18-25, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Fr. Jamal Khader delivered a lecture on Sunday, January 23, 2022 which touched on the spiritual and historical aspects of Christian unity.
The lecture, held at Karam Mseih hall in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Tla’ A-‘Ali, western Amman, followed a Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Jamal on the eve of the Catholic Church’s celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God. The Holy Mass was concelebrated by parish priest Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader, assistant priest Fr. Mathews Maseille, and deacon Jubran Salameh. In attendance were nuns of Sisters of the Incarnate Word Congregation and a number of believers.
Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Fr. Khader, who is specialized in theology of faith and dialogue among churches, addressed Christian unity as a wish by Lord Christ and as a fervent prayer that He lifted up before His death on the Cross. Noting that there are differences among the various Churches, he stressed the fact that these difference should not turn into disputes. He added that the ecclesiastical history abounds with those who sowed discord, yet it is exorbitant with those who seek to cement Christian unity.
Father Khader touched on the initiatives undertaken by the Catholic Church with the Orthodox Church and Protestant Church for the attainment of Christian unity. Noting that there are some doctrinal differences that the Churches can definitely resolve, yet there is a fundamental issue, which is the most important, namely love. He said, “Once love prevails, we can surmount all obstacles and face all challenges with one heart and one spirit of brotherhood.”
It is worthy to note that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in 1908 as the Octave of Christian Unity and focused on prayer for church unity. The dates of the week were proposed by Father Paul Wattson, co-ounder of the Graymoor Franciscan Friars. He conceived of the week beginning on the Feast of the Confession of Peter, the Protestant variant of the ancient Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, on 18 January, and concluding with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul on 25 January.
Father Paul was an indefatigable servant of God whose work was to spread the Kingdom of God on earth. He had the heart of a Franciscan and the missionary zeal of St. Paul as evidenced by his many publications, sermons and letters he left behind, and the Ave Maria Hour Radio Show which brought the words of the gospel and the lives of the saints into people’s homes.
Pope Pius X officially blessed the concept and Benedict XV “encouraged its observance throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church.”
This year, this week was sponsored jointly by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order. Its theme for 2022 is, namely “We saw the star in the east and came to worship Him,” (Matthew 2:2) was chosen by the Middle East Council of Churches, originating with the churches in Lebanon.
The theme chosen for this year reveals how Christians are called upon to be a sign to the world of Lord Jesus bringing about unity with a common desire among all Christians worldwide to worship Him and seek His intercession to bring into reality the desired goal of unity. This theme indicates that in the midst of evil, we long for goodness. It implies that we look for the good within ourselves, but so often we are overwhelmed by our weakness that hope fails us, so our confidence rests in the Lord Whom we worship.
With prayers lifted up for the attainment of Christian unity worldwide, let us trust the Prince of Peace Lord Jesus Christ’s promise that such a target will be attained and all obstacles standing in the way will be surmountable.
By Munir Bayouk/ en.abouna.org