Yesterday the Church began its week of prayer for Christian or Church Unity. It occurs annually and has, in one form or another, been observed since 1908. It is a response to an initiative by Pope Leo XIII at the end of the nineteenth century. Vatican Council II placed the longing for full unity between the Christian churches to the forefront of Catholic awareness reminding us that we are all baptized in Christ, sharing one faith and one baptism. Certainly we have varying, even conflicting interpretations of that faith that keep us apart but we are all baptized into the death of Christ because we all hope in the resurrection of Christ.
Our present Code of Canon Law defines the Church as composed of all those who are baptized in Christ; and that also defines our tragedy. Do we all share in the fullness of that membership? How do our divisions diminish the depth of the faith we claim to share? What misconceptions keep us from all gathering at the table/altar of the Lord to celebrate the Body of Christ?
Blessed John XXIII, lying in his death agony, prayed constantly ut unum sint; that is, that all may be one. Those are the words of Jesus at the Last Supper as narrated in John’s Gospel. Even then, all were not one: one had left to betray Jesus. So Jesus prayed to his Father that all may be one. And in less than twenty-four hours, Jesus would also cry out from the cross: it is accomplished. Consummatum est.
Each and every one of us is called to complete what our Lord has accomplished. It is our on-going work, literally, a labor of love. And were does this work begin? Within myself, for where else do our divisions begin?
From Abbot Robert’s Chapter Talk, 19 January, 2014