Rome (AsiaNews) - The martyrs of today are persecuted because they are Christians, "many Christians are persecuted and killed without distinction of confession. This is the "ecumenism of blood "evoked today by Pope Francis in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the walls, during the second Vespers of the Conversion of St. Paul, to terminate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. "Unity will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions ", but "seeking instead to grasp more fully what unites us, namely, our call to share in the mystery of the Father's love revealed to us by the Son through the Holy Spirit ".
In the basilica
dedicated to the Apostle of the Gentiles, Pope Francis was joined by Metropolitan
Gennadios, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Bishop David Moxon,
personal representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Rome, as well as representatives
of other Christian communities.
The Pope's homily is centered on the need to try to overcome divisions and contrasts the fruits of the past, " we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities and overcomes conflicts " because it is the common duty to announce and the Gospel "in the call to be evangelizers, all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities discover a privileged setting for closer cooperation".
on the Gospel passage in which Jesus, traveling from Judea to Galilee, passed
through Samaria. "He has no problem dealing with Samaritans, who
were considered by the Jews to be heretics, schismatics, separated. His
attitude tells us that encounter with those who are different from ourselves
can make us grow. Weary from his journey, Jesus does not hesitate to ask the
Samaritan woman for something to drink. His thirst, however, is much more
than physical: it is also a thirst for encounter, a desire to enter into
dialogue with that woman and to invite her to make a journey of interior
conversion. Jesus is patient, respectful of the person before him, and
gradually reveals himself to her. His example encourages us to seek a
serene encounter with others. To understand one another, and to grow in
charity and truth, we need to pause, to accept and listen to one another.
In this way, we already begin to experience unity".
" The woman of Sychar asks Jesus about the place where God is truly worshiped. Jesus does not side with the mountain or the temple, but goes to the heart of the matter, breaking down every wall of division. He speaks instead of the meaning of true worship: "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (Jn 4:24). So many past controversies between Christians can be overcome when we put aside all polemical or apologetic approaches, and seek instead to grasp more fully what unites us, namely, our call to share in the mystery of the Father's love revealed to us by the Son through the Holy Spirit. Christian unity will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions. We need to realize that, to plumb the depths of the mystery of God, we need one another, we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities and overcomes conflicts. He reconciles differences".
"Gradually the Samaritan woman comes to realize that the one who has asked her for a drink is able to slake her own thirst. Jesus in effect tells her that he is the source of living water which can satisfy her thirst for ever (cf. Jn 4:13-14). Our human existence is marked by boundless aspirations: we seek truth, we thirst for love, justice and freedom. These desires can only be partially satisfied, for from the depths of our being we are prompted to seek "something more", something capable of fully quenching our thirst. The response to these aspirations is given by God in Jesus Christ, in his paschal mystery. From the pierced side of Jesus there flowed blood and water (cf. Jn 19:34). He is the brimming fount of the water of the Holy Spirit, "the love of God poured into our hearts (Rom 5:5) on the day of our baptism. By the working of the Holy Spirit, we have become one in Christ, sons in the Son, true worshipers of the Father. This mystery of love is the deepest ground of the unity which binds all Christians and is much greater than their historical divisions. To the extent that we humbly advance towards the Lord, then, we also draw nearer to one another".
" Her encounter with Jesus made the Samaritan women a missionary. Having received a greater and more important gift than mere water from a well, she leaves her jar behind (cf. Jn 4:28) and runs back to tell her townspeople that she has met the Christ (cf. Jn 4:29). Her encounter with Jesus restored meaning and joy to her life, and she felt the desire to share this with others. Today there are so many men and women around us who are weary and thirsting, and who ask us Christians to give them something to drink. It is a request which we cannot evade. In the call to be evangelizers, all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities discover a privileged setting for closer cooperation. For this to be effective, we need to stop being self-enclosed, exclusive, and bent on imposing a uniformity based on merely human calculations (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 131). Our shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms. All of us are at the service of the one Gospel!".
The Pope then greeted the representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities present as well as the members of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, to whom he wished "a fruitful work for the plenary session that will take place in the next few days in Rome".
" Also present today - he added - are men and women religious from various Churches and Ecclesial Communities who have taken part in an ecumenical meeting organized by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, in conjunction with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to mark the Year for Consecrated Life. Religious life, as prophetic sign of the world to come, is called to offer in our time a witness to that communion in Christ which transcends all differences and finds expression in concrete gestures of acceptance and dialogue. The pursuit of Christian unity cannot be the sole prerogative of individuals or religious communities particularly concerned with this issue. A shared knowledge of the different traditions of consecrated life, and a fruitful exchange of experiences, can prove beneficial for the vitality of all forms of religious life in the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities".
"Dear brothers and sisters - concluded the Pope - today all of us who thirst for peace and fraternity trustingly implore from our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ the one Priest, and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostle Paul and all the saints, the gift of full communion between all Christians, so that "the sacred mystery of the unity of the Church" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 2) may shine forth as the sign and instrument of reconciliation for the whole world".