Print Version    Email to Friend
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

 

Reconciliation:
For Christ’s love compels us

    (2 Corinthians 5:14)

 

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation of the western church. Since Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church, Wittenberg, in 1517, the waves of reform spread around Europe; and the Roman Catholic Church also implemented internal reform.

In the last five centuries, Churches of different denominations have been constantly renewing their doctrines, ministry, liturgy and other dimensions.

Dedicated Christians have gone to the ends of the world to launch missions, provide education and serve the poor. The Church never stops reforming and renewing herself.

The history of both the east and west reveals that whenever a reformation breaks out, several streams of reform emerge, namely, the conservative, neutral, liberal and radical. This also happened during the reformation of both Protestantism and Catholicism.

Particularly within the former one, since different reformers demanded different levels of reform, they established their own Churches. As a result, thousands of denominations and countless independent Churches have been developed in the last five centuries.

This phenomenon continued until the 20th century, when the ecumenical movement called for the demolition of historical walls. The World Council of Churches represents the ecumenical efforts of the Orthodox and Protestant Churches.

The Roman Catholic Church convened the Second Vatican Council and has been active in dialogue and collaboration with other Churches. The Charismatic renewal among the Protestants and Catholics brought about unity among the laity.

These major events in Church history reflect that the Holy Spirit has been diverting the historical process of Churches to another direction—from endless division to reconciliation.

The Spirit motivates the Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants to get to know each other, reconcile with one another and collaborate with one another—ultimately, to rebuild the oneness of the Body of Christ.

Despite the political division during the two world wars and the Cold War, the determination and perseverance to achieve unity persisted.

Human nature is sinful, which makes the ministry of reconciliation extremely difficult. Some patristic fathers named several deadly sins: lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.

They provoke human beings to impose emotional and physical violence on others, which may cause irreparable harm. Some of the damage lasts for generations, or even for several centuries.

However, Christ’s sacrifice heals the broken relationship between God and humankind. The old sins and wounds no longer afflict us; we can become a new creation. 

From now on, we live for the Lord who died and was resurrected for us, so that human beings and Churches are endowed with the determination, strength and hope of reconciliation.

In recent years, Hong Kong society has been facing unprecedented political, economic, legal and social challenges, which have resulted in the formation of various political parties and camps.

Anger, fear, obstinacy and arrogance hinder the possibility of dialogue among them and consequently, problems remain trapped in deadlock. The Church has no way to escape from this turmoil.

The Body of Christ is called to act justly and to love mercy, which are certainly not easy; but only if we walk humbly with our God can we be assured of hope for the future.

As we face the challenges inside and outside of the Church, we pray that God will increase our virtue, enhance our discernment, expand our view and renew our faith, hope and love—to help us to exercise the ministry of reconciliation.

 

Diocesan Ecumenical Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Church

The Ecumenical Patriarchate Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia

Church Unity and Relations Committee Hong Kong Christian Council

 

January 2017

More from this section