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Friday, February 7, 2014

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity concludes in the Holy Land


JERUSALEM – On Sunday, February 2, 2014, at the Greek Catholic Church, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which began on Saturday, January 25, 2014, in the Holy Land, came to a conclusion.

In Jerusalem, there are 16 officially recognized church denominations. The purpose of the Week of Prayer for Unity was to rediscover the joy of prayer together, under one roof, and to know that Unity is possible.

We confess the same Christ, and that is essential! St. Paul lamented to the Corinthians: “Is Christ divided?”(1 Cor 1: 13). The same question challenged those who came to pray throughout the week. Each movement made ​​this week, from one church to another, and from one liturgical and theological tradition to another, was like an answer to the provocative question “No! Because we believe that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday , today and forever”(Heb 13 : 8).

The Week began with Greek Orthodox evening prayer at the Holy Sepulchre, on Saturday, January 25 and ended on Sunday, February 2, in the tradition of the Byzantine Catholic Church. During the week, Christians of the Holy City and outside came to different churches, bringing in their hearts the same desire and prayer of their Lord and Master, wherever they went, “that they may be one” (Jn 17 , 21). They prayed together, they listened to the Word of God, all under the breath of the Spirit of God. Sermons were delivered, words proclaimed, and all revolved around the same theme of the unity.

The Latin Patriarchate hosted a large group of believers in its Cathedral Church, on the evening of Friday, January 31. Father Michael McDonagh, a priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, gave the homily while developing the theme: “The principle of unity is God; therefore, focus on God, not on man.” That is to say, know that God makes possible what seems impossible to man. To better explain his comments, he drew on the Old Testament image of the victory that came from God to the Israelites in the battle against the Amalekites. When the hope of victory seemed impossible in the eyes of the Israelites, then God showed that with intercession in the style of Moses comes every success.

“The intercession of Moses frustrated the plan of the enemy army more than did the fighting by Joshua and his soldiers. Of course both were necessary. We need academics and experts to deal with the difficult and awkward dialogue on matters of doctrine and traditional practices. But without a powerful intercession, the work of “trained soldiers” (the researchers and experts), the desired unity of the Churches, the will of God, will not come to fruition.”

This meaning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Father Michael reflected. He encouraged us to extend this prayer throughout the year, in a special manner to better prepare for the visit of the Holy Father in May, when a meeting is planned with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, a strong signal of the attempted union of the Churches.

In the Holy Land, the celebration of the Week of Christian Unity was scheduled later than the rest of the world. This was due to an ecumenical concern: the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Feast of Christmas, or more precisely, the Epiphany, on January 18, according to the calendar in use in their Church. Each year, our Armenian brothers celebrate the coming of Christ in the flesh before celebrating together the ardent desire of all Christians to rediscover the unity of His body torn apart by our secular divisions.

Firas Abedrabbo


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