Day 1, Witness through Celebrating Life
Genesis 1:26-31, God
saw all that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
Psalm 104:1-24, O Lord, how manifold are your works.
Corinthians 15:12-20, If the dead are not raised, then Christ
has not been raised.
Luke 24:1-5, Why do you look for the living among the dead?
Our journey of Christian
unity is firmly rooted in our common belief that in the resurrection
of Jesus Christ, - we celebrate not only the life God has
given us but the offer of new life through Jesus' conquering
death once and for all. As we meet together during this Week
of Prayer for Christian Unity, we witness to our shared faith
by our concern for the life of all.
The reading from the
book of Genesis reminds us of the creative power and energy
of God. It is this power and energy that St. Paul encounters
in experiencing Jesus' resurrection. He challenges the people
of Corinth to put their total trust in the Risen Lord and
his offer of new life. The psalm continues this theme as it
proclaims the glory of God's creation.
Our gospel passage challenges
us to look for new life in the face of a culture of death
that our world frequently presents to us. It encourages us
to trust in Jesus' power, and so to experience life and healing.
Today, we thank God for
all that shows God's love for us: for all of creation; for
brothers and sisters in all parts of the world; for communion
in love, for forgiveness and healing and for life eternal.
God our creator, we praise
you for all who give witness to their faith by their words
and actions. In living life to the full we encounter your
loving presence in the many experiences you offer us. May
our common witness of celebrating life unite us in blessing
you, the author of all life. Amen.
To what extent do your
own witness and the witness of your church celebrate life?
Will others know from your witness that Christ has been raised
from the dead? What do you see as the areas of growth in your
life? Are there things of the past that the churches cling
to which ought to be laid to rest because of a new ecumenical
Day 2, Witness through Sharing Stories
Jeremiah 1:4-8, Go to
all to whom I send you.
Psalm 98, Sing to the Lord a new song.
Acts 14:21-23, They strengthened the souls of the disciples.
Luke 24:13-17a, What are you discussing with each other while
you walk along?
Sharing our stories is
a powerful way in which we give witness to our faith in God.
Listening to one another with respect and consideration allows
us to encounter God in the very person with whom we are sharing.
The reading from Jeremiah offers us a powerful witness of
God's call to the prophet. He is to share what he has received,
and so allow God's Word to be heard and lived out. This call
to proclaim God's Word is also experienced by the disciples
in the early Church, as witnessed to in the reading from Acts.
Our psalm allows us to sing to God with a spirit of praise
Today's gospel passage
presents a Jesus who enlightens our blindness and dispels
our disillusionment. He helps us to understand our stories
within the one unfolding plan of God. During this Week of
Prayer for Christian Unity, we listen to the faith stories
of other Christians in order to encounter God in the variety
of ways God's very self is revealed to us. In listening with
attentiveness we grow in faith and love. In spite of the diversity
of our personal and collective witness, we find ourselves
intertwined in the one story of God's love for us revealed
in Jesus Christ.
God of history, we thank
you for all who have shared their story of faith with us and
so have given witness to your presence in their lives. We
praise you for the variety of our stories both as individuals
and churches. In these stories we see the unfolding of the
one story of Jesus Christ. We pray for the courage and the
conviction to share our faith with those with whom we come
into contact, and so allow the message of your Word to spread
to all. Amen.
Are you "gossiping
the Gospel" or just gossiping?
How open are you or your church to be drawn into the stories
How open are you to share with others your stories of faith,
and so give witness to God's presence in your personal experiences
of life and of death?
Are you aware of the enormous potential for good that modern
means of communication offer the Church today?
Day 3, Witness through Awareness
1 Samuel 3:1-10, Speak, Lord, your servant
Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd.
Acts 8:26-40, Philip proclaimed to him the Good News about
their eyes were kept from recognizing
Growing in faith is a complex journey. It is
easy to miss God's revealing love to us in our everyday life
and experiences. The more pressure and activity we surround
ourselves with, then the greater the possibility of overlooking
what is in fact before our very eyes. Like the two disciples
in the gospel, we sometimes think we know what is real, and
try to explain our view to others, yet we are not aware of
the full truth. In our world today we are invited to be aware
of God in the surprising and unlikely events of life.
In our Old Testament reading, we hear how God
calls and invites Samuel to bear witness. Samuel first of
all has to hear this word. Hearing requires an open disposition
and a willingness to listen to God.
This desire to hear God's Word is also experienced
by both Philip and the Ethiopian in the reading from Acts.
They witness to their faith by responding to what is asked
of them at that precise moment in time. They listen attentively
and respond accordingly. The psalm of the Good Shepherd reflects
the quiet trust of the one who is aware of the tender care
of God, who gathers the flock and leads them to green pastures.
During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,
we seek to be aware of God in our everyday events and experiences.
We meet people who are familiar and others who are strangers.
In these encounters we learn from each other's spiritual experiences
and so get a new view of God's reality. This awareness of
God's presence challenges us to work for Christian unity.
Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd, You encounter us
and remain with us in everyday life. We pray for the grace
to be aware of all you do for us. We ask that you prepare
us to be open to all you offer us and bring us together in
one flock. Amen.
When have you been aware of God's presence
in your life? Are you aware of global celebrations and tragedies,
and how might our churches together respond to these? Is being
aware enough, or is there something more that you might do
in order to give witness to your faith? How do you make yourself
aware of God when the reality of God's presence does not correspond
to your expectations?
Day 4, Bearing witness through celebrating the faith we
Deuteronomy 6:3-9, The Lord is our God, the
Psalm 34, I will bless the Lord at all times.
Acts 4:32-35, Of one heart and soul.
Luke 24:17-21, But we had hoped
We have an enormous debt of gratitude to those
whose faith has provided the foundation for our Christian
lives today. Numerous men and women through their prayer,
witness and worship have ensured that the faith is handed
down to the next generations.
Today's readings affirm the importance of supporting
the community of faith in order to ensure the dissemination
of the Word of God. The passage from Deuteronomy gives us
the beautiful prayer of our Jewish sisters and brothers who
every day use these words to praise God. The Psalm invites
us to bear witness through praise for what we have received
as believers, so that our faith may be shown through glorifying
and thanksgiving. The extract from Acts reveals a community
united in faith and charity. The gospel passage shows us Jesus
as the center of what we have received in faith.
As we unite with our Christian brothers and
sisters in praying for unity during this week, we welcome
the rich variety of our Christian heritage. We pray that awareness
of our common heritage may unite us more closely as we progress
Lord God, we give you thanks for all the people
and communities who have communicated the message of the Good
News to us, and thus given us a solid foundation for our faith
today. We pray that we too may together bear witness to our
faith, so that others may know you and place their trust in
the truth of salvation offered in Jesus Christ for the life
of the world. Amen.
Who inspired you in your faith?
What are the aspects of faith which inspire you in your everyday
What do you feel were the most important teachings which were
passed on to you?
How can you recognize God at work with you in the transmission
of faith the future generations?
Day 5, Witness through suffering
Isaiah 50:5-9, The one who vindicates me is
Psalm 124, Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Romans 8:35-39, God's love shown forth in Jesus Christ.
Luke 24:25-27, He interpreted to them the things about himself.
The reality of suffering is something that
the Prophet Isaiah speaks about forcefully in today's text,
in which he reminds us that God is never resigned to seeing
humanity suffer. In response the Psalm proclaims the trust
that believers must maintain in their Savior.
The letter to the Romans proclaims the certainty
that love is always strongest and that suffering and sorrow
will never prevail. For before offering the resurrection to
the world, Christ entered into a terrible death and into the
dark depths of the tomb so as to be completely with us at
our very lowest ebb.
In the Lord's footsteps, Christians who seek
full unity show their solidarity to those amongst them who
are confronted in their lives with tragic situations of suffering,
by confessing that love is stronger than death. And that it
was from the extreme humiliation of the tomb that resurrection
came like a new sun for humanity; a clamoring annunciation
of life, forgiveness and immortality.
God our Father, look with compassion on our
situations of poverty, suffering, sin and death, we ask you
for forgiveness, healing, comfort and support in our ordeals.
We give you thanks for all who manage to see light in their
affliction. May your divine Spirit teach us the greatness
of your compassion and help us stand alongside our sisters
and brothers in difficulty. Filled with its blessings, may
we in unity proclaim and share with the world the victory
of your Son who lives for ever. Amen.
How can you show empathy to those who suffer
and are in difficulties?
What wisdom and deeper understanding have you gained through
suffering you have known in your own life?
How do you live out solidarity with the suffering and oppression
that so many people living in poverty in our world experience,
and what is your own experience of it?
How would you bear witness to the mercy of God and to the
hope you find in the light of the cross of Christ?
Day 6, Witness through Faithfulness to the Scriptures
Isaiah 55:10-11, The word that goes forth from
my mouth does not return to me empty.
Psalm 119:17-40, Open my eyes that I may see the wonders of
2 Timothy 3:14-17, All scripture is inspired by God.
Luke 24:28-35, Jesus opens the Scriptures to His disciples.
Christians encounter God's Word in a privileged
way through reading the Sacred
Scriptures and celebrating the sacraments. In faithfully listening
to the proclamation of Holy Scripture, and by prayerfully
reading the various books of the Bible, they open their hearts
and minds to receive the very Word of God. Jesus promised
His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to make them
understand the Word of God, and to guide them in all truth.
Historically, Christians have been divided
in reading and understanding the Word of God. Fortunately,
in recent times, in their search for unity, Sacred Scripture
has brought Christians closer to one another. Shared Bible
study has become a major means of growing together among them.
The Christian journey that we celebrate during this Week of
Prayer for Christian Unity is one that is firmly rooted in
our shared listening to God's Word, trying together to understand
and to live it.The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God's Word
powerfully proclaimed is indeed effective and operative. It
does not return to God empty but succeeds in the purpose for
which He sent it.
This message is repeated in the words addressed
to Timothy, as he is directed to believe in the efficacy of
the Scriptures by which the faithful are equipped for every
good work. Our psalm gives praise for God's words and statutes
and implores God to give understanding, that we may keep the
Holy Law with our whole heart.
During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
we pray that all Christians may enter more deeply into the
mystery of God's wonderful revelation as it comes to us in
Holy Scripture. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us better comprehend
the Word of God and to direct us on our common journey of
faith until we will all be gathered again around the one table
of the Lord.
God, we praise and thank you for your saving
Word as it reaches out to us through the Sacred Scriptures.
We thank you too for the brothers and sisters with whom we
share your Word and discover together the abundance of Your
love. We pray for the light of the Holy Spirit, so that Your
Word may lead and direct us in our quest for greater unity.
What are the passages of Scripture that mean
most to you?
Who or what in your life makes your heart burn with a passion
for the gospel and a desire to give witness to Christ?
Which passages from the Scriptures have helped you to better
understand the witness of other Christians?
How may our churches use the Scripture more effectively in
their daily life and prayer?
Day 7, Witness through Hope and Trust
Job 19:23-27, God whom I shall see on my side.
Psalm 63, My soul thirsts for You.
Acts 3:1-10, What I have, I give you.
Luke 24:36-40, The disciples were startled and terrified.
During their journey in life and faith, all
Christians experience moments of doubt. The challenge faced
by Christians is to continue to believe that even when they
do not see or feel God, God remains with them. The virtues
of faith, hope and trust allow them to give witness that their
faith goes beyond their own possibilities.
The character Job gives us an example of someone
who faced difficult trials and tribulations and even argued
with God. In faith and hope however, he believed that God
would remain on his side. This reliance and conviction is
also shown by the actions of Peter and John in the account
with the lame man as told in Acts. Their belief in the Name
of Jesus allows them to witness powerfully to all who were
present. Today's psalm is a prayer reflecting our deep desire
for God's steadfast love.
Our meeting during this Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity allows our communities to grow in shared faith,
hope and love. We bear witness to God's steadfast love to
all people, and God's faithfulness to the one church we are
called to be. The more we witness together, the stronger our
message will be.
God of hope, share Your vision of the one church
with us, and overcome our doubts. Increase our faith in your
presence, that all who profess belief in you may worship together
in spirit and in truth. We especially pray for all who are
in doubt right now, or whose lives are spent in the shadow
of danger and fear. Be with them and give them your consoling
How do you deal with your own fears and doubts?
How might you be a cause of fear and anxiety for others by
When have you faced up to your own fears and doubts and so
given witness to your faith in Christ by overcoming these
How may Christian communities encourage one another in faith
Day 8, Witness through Hospitality
Genesis 18:1-8, Let me bring a little bread,
that you may refresh yourselves.
Psalm 146, He who gives justice to the oppressed and gives
food to the hungry.
Romans 14:17-19, Pursue what makes for peace and mutual edification.
Luke 24:41-48, Then he opened their minds to understand the
Today, electronic communication has made us
neighbors in one small and overloaded planet. As in the time
of Luke, many peoples and communities have had to leave their
homes, wandering and journeying to strange lands. People of
the world's great faiths have arrived bringing new beliefs
and cultures to our communities.
In the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we
recognize in our shared journey towards unity the hospitality
and companionship of Christians of all churches. Christ also
calls us to both offer and to receive the hospitality of the
stranger who has become our neighbor. Surely, if we cannot
see Christ in the other, then we cannot see Christ at all.
The story in Genesis describes how Abraham
receives God in opening his house and offering hospitality
to strangers. The God of all creation also stands with the
prisoner, the blind, the stranger. Our psalm is an offering
of praise for God's everlasting faithfulness and all that
God has done for us.
The text from Romans reminds us that the kingdom
of God comes about through justice and peace and joy in the
The resurrected Christ brings his disciples
together, eats with them and they recognize him again. He
reminds them of what the scriptures said about him and explains
what they did not understand before. Thus, he frees them from
their doubts and fears and sends them out to become witnesses
of these things. In creating this space for encounter with
him he enables them to receive his peace, that implies justice
for the oppressed, care for the hungry and the mutual up-building
as the gifts of the new world of the resurrection. Christians
throughout history have found the risen Lord as they have
served others and been served by others in faith, so we too
can encounter Christ when we share our lives and our gifts.
God of love, You have shown us your hospitality
in Christ. We acknowledge that through sharing our gifts with
all, we meet you. Give us the grace that we may become one
on our journey together and recognize you in one another.
In welcoming the stranger in your name may we become witnesses
to your hospitality and your justice. Amen.
To what extent is the country in which you
live hospitable to the stranger?
How in your own neighborhood can the stranger find hospitality
and a space to live?
How might you show gratitude for those who have shown you
hospitality by being available?
How does the cross show us that God's hospitality is a hospitality
lived out in total self-giving?