The second day of a meeting of bishops from various churches, friends of the Focolare, under the banner of unity
The darkness of the catacombs was brightened by the candlelight. People from various churches appeared in the corridors, walking as the words of a prayer of the first Christians resounded. They gathered around the altar of the small chapel, where the united community shared bread.
Holding hands, with a spontaneous prayer they asked for the gift of unity. It was a foretaste of the ‘pact of mutual love’ that is renewed at every meeting of bishops who are friends of the Focolare.
“The covenant strengthens our unity, our covenant, and urges us to maintain it in our relationships with brothers and sisters, in our countries or wherever we are,” said Bishop Nelson Leite of the Methodist Church of Brazil. “The covenant has changed my life. It has motivated me and led me to accept other people, to live with them, to learn to listen to them and to be able to establish a dialogue, even if we are different.”
It was a sacred and moving moment, symbolically enclosed, as if in a chapel. The 170 bishops of various Christian churches participating in the “Dare to be one” conference are typically scattered throughout the world, yet here there were no more distances or electronic media, which allowed the connections. Those same catacomb candles gave light to their new commitment of unity.
“We want the New Commandment of Jesus to be the foundation of our relationships – ‘that loving one another’, we want to be the foundation of our fraternal relationships,” said Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick (Ireland), and one of the moderators of the meeting.
With the awareness that, if it is put into practice, Jesus can fulfil his promise, “Where two or more are united in my name, there am I present in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20).
“We long for Jesus to be able to give us this gift,” Leahy said, “so we would like to promise him that we want to continue to live in love with one another, to love each other’s diocese and community as I love my own, to love each other’s Church as I love my own.”
If there is mutual love among Christians, it is the strongest and most credible witness to the world around us. Jesús Morán, co-president of the Focolare Movement, said: “Yes, our unity, the unity of all Christians, could be a decisive contribution to the transformation of the world. This is an ethical imperative that cannot be postponed.”
Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement, concluded the two days by expressing the desire of many participants to keep moving forward – “to create a great network that will help us connect together, living cells united in the name of Jesus.
“Who knows how many initiatives could emerge to renew the life of our churches in the one Church of Christ!”
She invited everyone to join together to ask God the Father to enlighten the way forward by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. The words of the prayer taught by Jesus harmonised together in so many languages, like a symphony rising to heaven that floods the hearts and minds of everyone, sealing the pact of unity just made.