01/19/2018, 13.07
INDIA

Vasai, Week of prayer for Christian unity "for the conversion of hearts"

by Felix Machado*

More than 1500 faithful of different Christian denominations gathered in common prayer. "In the name of Jesus we are called to overcome all the challenges of division". "The unity of the Christian family is the key to unity in the human family and peace in the world".

Vasai (AsiaNews) - A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity "that leads to complete change and the conversion of hearts, minds and life". This is Msgr. Felix Machado’s wish for this annual initiative marked by the universal Church from the 18th to the 25th of January.  The Archbishop of Vasai yesterday called the faithful of all denominations to the parish hall of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace. About 1500 Christians gathered in prayer, songs and silent moments of adoration. For the archbishop, "Jesus is the unifying force. The world today has an urgent need for peace and love ". and "The unity of the Christian family is the key to unity in the human family and peace in the world". Below his words entrusted to AsiaNews.

This was a very special year, as we celebrated and observe the 50th year  that the Catholic Church jointed in the common preparation with the World Council of Churches (WCC) in preparing the prayers.

There were more than 1500 people from different Christian tradition and I explained to them the theme taken from the Book of Exodus  “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power, Was sung after Israelites had Crossed the Red Sea.

The Red Sea is not to be taken as merely a geographical place, Like the people of Israel in the Old Testament, who overcame every challenge, through the power of God;   We journey together and In the name of Jesus, we too are called, to overcome, all challenges of division. The theme is an invitation to  a complete change and conversion of our hearts and minds and lives, it has to be a complete human experience of freedom.  In Indian tradition, the Book of Upanishads, speaks of from Darkness to Light, This Theme Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power, Is the Universal Human Experience of Freedom.

At our two hour Ecumenical prayer Service which was bilingual (Marathi and Englist) , there were Pastors, from the Methodist Church, Free Churches, Baptist Church, CNI(Anglican), Jacobite, Marthomite and others, we came together to celebrate our diversity and pray for our unity to witness faithfully to Christ and His Gospel!. Building in hope upon the firm foundation of our common faith in Christ, his death and resurrection, and the mission of the Holy Spirit in and through the Church be inspired by a longing for the unity which Christ intended for his body, the Church.

In my sharing, I told the all our friends from the difference Christian Traditions, quoting St John Paul II said: “Only the experience of deeper communion will enable us to bear more effective witness to Christ in the world and to accomplish the mission which he has entrusted to us”.

We all proclaim that Jesus is the Lord, but when the family is divided, we risk our credibility of witnessing as one family Christian unity is key to Unity in the Human Family and Peace in the World.

We need to come closer to Jesus, to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.   Jesus is the UNIFYING force.  The world today is urgently in need of Peace, Love.

We acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters with different traditions but inspired by the same Gospel to undertake the same mission to the world, and I spoke about Pope Francis who has said, ‘ that while in our lifetime, we may not witness full unity, let us work together with what we have’.  “Let us journey together  for the common good, is standing with the poor, and reaching out  together to reveal Christ’s presence among those at the margins of our world..  The world need Love, and together, we can build a world of peace and love, through our service. “

Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power , also  involves working for the unity of both the Christian family and the human family. These two goals are not only not opposed, but are mutually enriching. When, as disciples of Jesus, we serve together side by side, when we promote openness and encounter, and reject the temptation to narrow-mindedness and isolation, we are working both for the unity of Christians and for the unity of the human family.

So let us journey together, walk together by faith, guided and strengthened by Jesus  who walks the pilgrim path with us,  to work on practical collaboration towards  building a new world order, of Peace and Unity in the Human family, actively serving the poor and those on the peripheries.

 

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