WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY 2021
PRAYER / WORSHIP:
Daily Scripture & Prayer Guide
Day 1, Called by God: “You did not choose me but I chose you” (John 15:16a)
- Genesis 12:1-4, The call of Abraham
- John 1:35-51, The call of the first disciples
The start of the journey is an encounter between a human being and God, between the created and the Creator, between time and eternity.
Abraham heard the call: “Go to the land I will show you.” Like Abraham we are called to leave that which is familiar and go to the place that God has prepared in the depths of our hearts. Along the way, we become more and more ourselves, the people God has wanted us to be from the beginning. And by following the call that is addressed to us, we become a blessing for our loved ones, our neighbors, and the world.
The love of God seeks us. God became human in Jesus, in whom we encounter the gaze of God. In our lives, as in the Gospel of John, God’s call is heard in different ways. Touched by his love, we set out. In this encounter, we walk a path of transformation – the bright beginning of a relationship of love that is always started anew.
Jesus Christ, you seek us, you wish to offer us your friendship and lead us to a life that is ever more complete. Grant us the confidence to answer your call so that we may be transformed and become witnesses of your tenderness for the world. Amen.
Day 2, Maturing internally: “Abide in me as I abide in you” (John 15:4a)
- Ephesians 3:14-21, May Christ dwell in our hearts
- Luke 2:41-52, Mary treasured all these things
The encounter with Jesus gives rise to the desire to stay with him and to abide in him: a time in which fruit matures.
Being fully human, like us Jesus grew and matured. He lived a simple life, rooted in the practices of his Jewish faith. In this hidden life in Nazareth, where apparently nothing extraordinary happened, the presence of the Father nourished him.
Mary contemplated the actions of God in her life and in that of her son. She treasured all these things in her heart. Thus, little by little, she embraced the mystery of Jesus.
We too need a long period of maturation, an entire lifetime, in order to plumb the depths of Christ’s love, to let him abide in us and for us to abide in him. Without our know- ing how, the Spirit makes Christ dwell in our hearts. And it is through prayer, by listening to the word, in sharing with others, by putting into practice what we have understood, that the inner being is strengthened.
Holy Spirit, may we receive in our hearts the presence of Christ, and cherish it as a secret of love. Nourish our prayer, enlighten our reading of Scripture, act through us, so that the fruits of your gifts can patiently grow in us. Amen.
Day 3, Forming one body: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12b)
- Colossians 3:12-17, Clothe yourself with compassion
- John 13:1-15; 34-35, Love one another
On the eve of his death, Jesus knelt to wash the feet of his disciples. He knew the difficulty of living together and the importance of forgiveness and mutual service. “Unless I was you,” he said to Peter, “you have no share with me.”
Peter received Jesus at his feet; he was washed and was touched by the humility and gentleness of Christ. Later he would follow Jesus’ example and serve the fellowship of the faithful in the early Church.
Jesus wishes that life and love circulate through us as the sap through the vine, so that Christian communities be one body. But today as in the past, it is not easy to live together. We are often faced with our own limitations. At times we fail to love those who are close to us in a community, parish or family. There are times when our relationships break down completely.
In Christ we are invited to be clothed in compassion, through countless new beginnings. The recognition that we are loved by God moves us to welcome each other with our strengths and weaknesses. It is then that Christ is in our midst.
God our father, you reveal to us your love through Christ and through our broth- ers and sisters. Open our hearts so that we can welcome each other with our differ- ences and live in forgiveness. Grant us to live united in one body, so that the gift that is each person comes to light. May all of us together be a reflection of the living Christ.
Day 4, Praying together: “I do not call you servants any longer... but I have called you friends” (John 15:15)
- Romans 8:26-27, The Spirit helps us in our weakness
- Luke 11:1-4, Lord, teach us to pray
God thirsts for a relationship with us. God searches for us as God searched for Adam, calling him in the garden: “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
In Christ, God came to meet us. Jesus lived in prayer, intimately united to his Father, while creating friendships with his disciples and all those he met. He introduced them to that which was most precious to him: the relationship of love with his Father, who is our Father. Jesus and his disciples sang psalms together, rooted in the richness of their Jewish tradition. At other times, Jesus retired to pray alone.
Prayer can be solitary or shared with others. It can express wonder, complaint, intercession, thanksgiving or simple silence. Sometimes the desire to pray is there, but one has the feeling of not being able to do so. Turning to Jesus and saying to him, “teach me,” can pave the way. Our desire itself is already prayer.
Getting together in a group offers us support. Through hymns, words and silence, communion is created. If we pray with Christians of other traditions, we may be surprised to feel united by a bond of friend- ship that comes from the One who is beyond all division. The forms may vary, but it is the same Spirit that brings us together.
Lord Jesus, your entire life was prayer, perfect harmony with the Father. Through your Spirit, teach us to pray according to your will of love. May the faithful of the whole world unite in intercession and praise, and may your kingdom of love come. Amen.
Day 5, Letting oneself be transformed by the Word: “You have already been pruned by the word...” (John 15:3)
- Deuteronomy 30:11-20, The word of God is very close to you
- Matthew 5:1-12, Blessed are you
The Word of God is very close to us. It is a blessing and a promise of happiness. If we open our hearts, God speaks to us and patiently transforms that which is dying in us. God removes that which prevents the growth of real life, just as the vine grower prunes the vine.
Regularly meditating on a biblical text, alone or in a group, changes our outlook. Many Christians pray the Beatitudes every day. The Beatitudes reveal to us a happiness that is hidden in that which is unfulfilled, a happiness that lies beyond suffering: blessed are those who, touched by the Spirit, no longer hold back their tears but let them flow and thus receive consolation. As they discover the wellspring hidden within their inner landscape, the hunger for justice, and the thirst to engage with others for a world of peace, grows in them.
We are constantly called to renew our commitment to life, through our thoughts and actions. There are times when we already taste, here and now, the blessing that will be fulfilled at the end of time.
Blessed are you, God our Father, for the gift of your word in Holy Scripture. Blessed are you for its transforming power. Help us to choose life and guide us by your Spirit, so that we can experience the happiness which you want so much to share with us. Amen.
Day 6, Welcoming others: “Go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (John 15:16b)
- Genesis 18:1-5, Abraham hosts the an- gels at the Oak of Mamre
- Mark 6:30-44, Jesus’ compassion for the crowds
When we let ourselves be transformed by Christ, his love in us grows and bears fruit. Welcoming the other is a concrete way of sharing the love that is within us.
Throughout his life, Jesus welcomed those he met. He listened to them and let himself be touched by them without being afraid of their suffering.
In the gospel account of the multiplica- tion of the loaves, Jesus is moved with com- passion after seeing the hungry crowd. He knows that the entire human person must be nourished, and that he alone can truly satisfy the hunger for bread and the thirst for life. But he does not wish to do this without his disciples, without that little something they can give him: five loaves and two fish.
Even today he draws us to be co-workers in his unconditional care. Sometimes some- thing as small as a kind look, an open ear, or our presence is enough to make a person feel welcome. When we offer our poor abilities to Jesus, he uses them in a surprising way.
We then experience what Abraham did, for it is by giving that we receive, and when we welcome others, we are blessed in abundance.
Jesus Christ, we desire to welcome fully the brothers and sisters who are with us. You know how often we feel helpless in the face of their suffering, yet you are always there ahead of us and you have already received them in your compassion. Speak to them through our words, support them through our actions, and let your blessing rest on us all. Amen.
Day 7, Growing in Unity: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5a)
- 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:21-23, Is Christ divided?
- John 17:20-23, As you and I are one
On the eve of his death, Jesus prayed for the unity of those the Father gave him: “that they may all be one... so that the world may believe.” Joined to him, as a branch is to the vine, we share the same sap that circulates among us and vitalizes us.
Each tradition seeks to lead us to the heart of our faith: communion with God, through Christ, in the Spirit. The more we live this communion, the more we are connected to other Christians and to all of humanity. Paul warns us against an atti- tude that had already threatened the unity of the first Christians: absolutizing one’s own tradition to the detriment of the unity of the body of Christ. Differences then be- come divisive instead of mutually enrich- ing. Paul had a very broad vision: “All are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” (1 Corinthians 3:22-23)
Christ’s will commits us to a path of unity and reconciliation. It also commits us to unite our prayer to his: “that they may all be one... so that the world may believe.” (John 17:21)
Holy Spirit, vivifying fire and gentle breath, come and abide in us. Renew in us the passion for unity so that we may live in awareness of the bond that unites us in you. May all who have put on Christ at their Baptism unite and bear witness together to the hope that sustains them. Amen,
Day 8, Reconciling with all of creation: “So that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11)
- Colossians 1:15-20, In him all things hold together
- Mark 4:30-32, As small as a mustard seed
The hymn to Christ in the epistle to the Colossians invites us to sing the praise of God’s salvation, which encompasses the entire universe. Through the crucified and risen Christ, a path of reconciliation has been opened up; creation too is destined for a future of life and peace.
With the eyes of faith, we see that the kingdom of God is a reality that is very close but still very small, hardly visible – like a mustard seed. However, it is grow- ing. Even in the distress of our world the Spirit of the Risen One is at work. He en- courages us to become involved – with all people of good will – in tirelessly seeking justice and peace, and ensuring the earth is once again a home for all creatures.
We participate in the work of the Spirit so that creation in all its fullness may con- tinue to praise God. When nature suffers, when human beings are crushed, the Spirit of the risen Christ – far from allowing us to lose heart – invites us to become part of his work of healing.
The newness of life that Christ brings, however hidden, is a light of hope for many. It is a wellspring of reconciliation for the whole of creation and contains a joy that comes from beyond ourselves: “so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
Thrice-holy God, we thank you for having created and loved us. We thank you for your presence in us and in creation. May we learn to look upon the world as you look upon it, with love. In the hope of this vision, may we be able to work for a world where justice and peace flourish, for the glory of your name. Amen.