The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated every year. In the northern hemisphere it is held from 18th-25th January, in the southern hemisphere from the Feast of the Ascension to Pentecost. The motto for 2020, chosen by Christians of various Churches in Malta, is taken from the Acts of the Apostles “They showed us unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2)
On this occasion we present an extract from the talk given by Chiara Lubich on the 27th October 2002 in the Protestant Cathedral Church of St Peter, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Love! What a great need there is for love in the world! And in us Christians!
All together we Christians of various Churches number more than a billion people. Such a large number should be quite visible. But unfortunately we are so divided that many do not see us, nor do they see Jesus through us. He said that the world would recognize us as his own and, through us, would recognize him, by our reciprocal love, by unity: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).
So our uniform, our distinctive characteristic was supposed to be reciprocal love, unity. And this was supposed to be the characteristic of his Church. But we didn’t maintain full visible communion, and we still don’t have it now. Therefore, we are convinced that the Churches as such must also love one another with this love. And we strive to work in this direction.
How often do the Churches seem to have forgotten the testament of Jesus, scandalizing the world with their divisions, while they should have been winning it for him! If we look over our 2,000 year history, and in particular at the history of the second millennium, we cannot help but see that it has often been a series of misunderstandings, quarrels and conflicts that in many places have torn the seamless tunic of Christ that is his Church.
Certainly, this was caused by circumstances, whether historical, cultural, political, geographical or social…. But it was also caused by the fact that among us there was a lack of this unifying characteristic typical of us: love.
That is why today, as we seek to make up for so much wrongdoing, and to draw new strength for a fresh start, we must put all our confidence in this evangelical love. If we spread love and mutual love among the Churches, this love will lead the each of the Churches, different from one another as they are, to become a gift for the others.
Dear brothers and sisters, we have understood the point: our present times ask each one of us for love; they call for unity, fellowship and solidarity. And the Churches are called to recompose the unity that has been torn apart for centuries.
This is the most important of all reforms, which heaven is asking of us. It is the first step that we need to take towards becoming one family with all people in the world. The world will believe if we are united. Jesus said so: “That they may all be one… so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).
God wants this! Believe me! He says it again and again and cries out for it through the present-day circumstances which he permits.
May he give us the grace, if not to see all this accomplished, at least to prepare for its coming.
Taken from: Il dialogo è vita (Città Nuova 2007, pp 16-33)