Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - Day 1

This is my favorite prayer week of the year. The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity runs from January 18-25 and is prepared by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches. I will post the readings/prayers/reflections for everyday. This year, particular emphasis is placed on the Christians of Poland. The theme for 2012 is based on 1 Corinthians 15:51-58: "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ." All reflections posted here come from the WCC and Vatican websites.

1 Corinthians 15:51-58
Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
New Revised Standard Version

Day 1 Theme: Changed by the Servant Christ

Text: The Son of Man came to serve (cf. Mk 10:45)


Zech 9:9-10 A king righteous and victorious – and humble

Ps 131 My heart is not proud

Rom 12:3-8 We have different gifts with which to serve

Mk 10:42-45 The Son of Man came to serve


The coming of the Messiah and His victory were accomplished through service. Jesus wants a spirit of service to fill the hearts of His followers as well. He teaches us that true greatness consists in serving God and one’s neighbour. Christ gives us the courage to discover that He is the one for whom to serve is to reign – as an early Christian saying has it.

Zechariah’s prophecy concerning a victorious and humble King was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He, the King of Peace, comes to his own, to Jerusalem – the City of Peace. He does not conquer it by deceit or violence, but by gentleness and humility.

Psalm 131 briefly but eloquently describes the state of spiritual peace which is the fruit of humility. The picture of a mother and child is a sign of God’s tender love and of trust in God, to which the entire community of believers is called.

Paul the apostle challenges us to make a sober and humble assessment of ourselves and to discover our own abilities. While we have a diversity of gifts we are one body in Christ. In our divisions each of our traditions has been endowed by the Lord with gifts that we are called to place at the service of others.

For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mk 10.45). By His service, Christ redeemed our refusal to serve God. He became an example for repairing all relations between people: Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant – those are the new standards of greatness and priority.

In the Letter to the Romans, Paul reminds us that the diverse gifts given to us are for service: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership and compassion. In our diversity we are always one body in Christ, and members of one another. The use of our diverse gifts in common service to humanity makes visible our unity in Christ. The joint action of Christians for the benefit of humanity, to combat poverty and ignorance, defend the oppressed, to be concerned about peace and to preserve life, develop science, culture and art are an expression of the practical ecumenism which the Church and the world badly need. The imitation of Christ the Servant provides eloquent testimony to the Gospel, moving not only minds, but also hearts. Such common service is a sign of the coming Kingdom of God – the kingdom of the Servant Christ.


Almighty and eternal God, by travelling the royal road of service your Son leads us from the arrogance of our disobedience to humility of heart. Unite us to one another by your Holy Spirit, so that through service to our sisters and brothers, Your true countenance may be revealed; You, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Questions for reflection

What opportunities for service are most threatened by pride and arrogance?
What should be done to ensure that all Christian ministries are better experienced as service?
In our community, what can Christians of different traditions do better together than in isolation to reveal the Servant Christ?

For any people interested in Reformed - Catholic dialogue check out this blog: The bloggers are former Reformed Christians and ministers who became Catholic. They post essays written by former Reformed Christians and lectures by the Catholic theologian Lawrence Feingold on issues that engage those interested in understanding the Reformed tradition. The blog is a friendly and intellectually stimulating atmosphere for having dialogue between Reformed Christians and Catholic Christians. Even if you are not Catholic or a Reformed Christian it is a very helpful site. I have learned quite a lot about Calvin through calledtocommunion. Check it out...