18-25 January 2021
A Prayer for Christian Unity
Almighty God, breathe into us the wind of unity that recognizes our diversity.
Breathe into us tolerance that welcomes and makes us community.
Breathe into us fire that unites what is torn apart and heals what is ill.
Breathe into us grace that overcomes hatred and frees us from violence.
Blessed be the God of mercy, who makes all things new. Amen.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021 was prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp. The theme that was chosen, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the church and the human family.
Resource material for the week may be found on the web site for the World Council of Churches.
In Menorca, there was an ecumenical celebration at the Roman Catholic church of El Roser in Es Castell at 17:30 CET on Saturday, 23 January. The Vicar-General of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Menorca, Msgr. Gerard Villalonga, represented the Bishop of Menorca, who will be involved in educational duties in Pamplona.
The service was broadcast via Zoom. You will find a recording of the service via a link to Youtube, below, which includes the words of Father Gerard’s homily as subtitles; the English version of his text is also included below. The recording corrects some of the idiosyncratic behaviour of the Zoom link.
Homily of Mons. Gerard Villalonga, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Menorca
This week of 18 to 25 January is dedicated specifically to this – to ask God for the gift of unity to overcome the scandal of division between believers in Jesus. After the Last Supper, he prayed for his own, “that they may all be one.” (John 17.21) This was his prayer before the Passion; we could call it his spiritual testament. Jesus prayed to the Father for us, so that we might be one. This means that we are not able to achieve unity with our own strength. Above all, unity is a gift, it is a grace to be requested through prayer.
Each one of us needs it. In fact, we know that we are not capable of preserving unity even within ourselves. Even the apostle Paul felt a painful conflict within himself: wanting the good but inclined toward evil (see Romans 7.19). He had thus grasped the root of so many divisions that surround us – between people, in families, in society, between nations and even between believers – and inside us. Therefore, the solution to these divisions is not to oppose someone, because discord generates more discord. The true remedy begins by asking God for peace, reconciliation, unity.
And this is valid, first of all, for Christians. Unity can be achieved only as a fruit of prayer. These things are done, but they are not enough. Our prayer for unity is thus a humble but trusting participation in the Lord’s prayer, who promised that any prayer said in his name would be heard by the Father (see John 15.7). On the Christians’ unity depends the world’s faith; in fact the Lord asked that we be one “so that the world might believe” (John 17.21). The world will not believe because we will have convinced it with good arguments, but if we bear witness to that love that unites us and draws us near, yes: it will believe.
During this time of serious hardship, this prayer is even more necessary so that unity might prevail over conflicts. It is urgent that we set aside preferences to promote the common good, and so our good example is fundamental: it is essential that Christians pursue the path toward full visible unity. It is the path that the Holy Spirit gave rise to in the Church, in Christians and in us, from which there is no turning back. Ever onward.
To pray means to fight for unity. God takes us as we are, He loves us so much, but he loves us as we are and takes us as we are; he takes those of us who are different, he takes sinners, and he always nudges us towards unity. We can evaluate ourselves and ask ourselves whether, in the places in which we live, we nurture conflict, or fight for an increase of unity with the tools that God has given us: prayer and love. What fuels conflict, instead, is gossip, always talking behind people’s backs. The Holy Spirit always inspires unity.
The theme of this Week of Prayer specifically regards love: “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (see John 15.5-9). The root of communion and love is Christ who makes us overcome our prejudices to see in others a brother or sister to be loved always. Then we will discover that the Christians of other confessions – with their traditions, with their history – are gifts from God, they are gifts present present within the territories of our diocesan and parish communities. Let us begin to pray for them and, when possible, with them. We will thus learn to love and appreciate them. Prayer, the council reminds us, is the soul of every ecumenical movement (see Unitatis redintegratio, 8). Therefore, may prayer be the starting point to help Jesus make his dream come true: that they all may be one.