“I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
I love the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25): They showed us unusual kindness.
Here’s the background: When St. Paul arrived in Malta with his disciples, carrying the light of salvation, the people welcomed him with “extraordinary hospitality.” (Acts 28:2) The weather had turned bad, but the hosts lit a fire and welcomed their guests with kindness.
An act of kindness can be a game-changer in any relationship, a gesture of reconciliation that brings people closer together. As the Church begins a week of prayer for the unity of all Christians, let’s remind ourselves that “unusual kindness” can make a difference in reaching what may have felt like an unreachable goal.
Where’s a good place to start? Our mission calling is to love and serve the Lord by witnessing his compassion, so begin there. Listen to others first before judging. That was a lesson I learned during my years among the indigenous people of South America’s Altiplano. The communities were divided between Catholic and evangelical Christian, each with different ideas of worship and religious expression. It took time, but we were able to overcome divisions just by inviting people to listen first. By showing respect and understanding, somehow the differences became less divisive. This is how reconciliation among Christian communities can begin.
Friend, we have two assignments during the Church’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Pray for healing. Then witness the compassion of Our Lord where it is needed most. That way, I am confident one day all will be one in Christ.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M.
Prayer for 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lord Jesus, You prayed
Your disciples would be united
under the banner of faith, hope, and love.
Help us strive toward that unity for which
You suffered and died; help us recognize
true friends even among strangers and above
all open our ears to listen to the highest
hopes and deepest hurts of our
Brothers and sisters.
May we welcome each guest
as if they were Christ himself
and may we offer hospitality to all
as Abraham and Sarah once
entertained angels unawares.
Grant us healing, O Lord
that we may serve You and Your people
with renewed strength and zeal.
Let us look beyond the things
that divide us and help us help
each other along the paths of righteousness
according to Your will.
Prayer by Father Joseph R. Veneroso, M.M.