CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 May 2019

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Every year from January 18 to 25 we observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year’s theme is: Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue … (Deuteronomy 16:18-20). Christian Churches in Hong Kong are organising several ecumenical activities, one of which is a prayer service for Christian unity at St. Teresa’s Church, Kowloon, on the evening of January 19.
 
As pointed out in the resources released by the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches, in a world where corruption, greed and injustice bring out inequality and division, Christians must pray for unity in a fractured world.
 
It is worth noting that the Christian communities in Indonesia, which prepared this year’s material, not only reprimand the injustice in the secular world, but also speak out saying, “As individual Christians and communities, we are often complicit with injustice” … “confronted by these injustices, we are obliged, as Christians, to examine the ways in which we are complicit. Only by heeding Jesus’s prayer ‘that they all may be one’ can we witness to living unity in diversity. It is through our unity in Christ that we will be able to combat injustice and serve the needs of its victims.”
 
In speaking about Christian unity, we cannot simply engage in abstract, out-of-context and empty talk. The Christian Unity Week material for reflection points out that in a society that focuses solely on economic growth based only on competition, the spirit of mutual help will naturally be undermined. Only when Christians jointly bear witness to justice can they become Jesus’s tool to heal the world.
 
When a society nurtures injustice, Christian communities in the secular world find it hard to stay clean of these. Just as injustice has deepened social discord, injustice has also divided the Church.
 
Last June marked the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the World Council of Churches. During his visit to its headquarters in Switzerland, Pope Francis encouraged people to serve those who suffer, pointing out, “The credibility of the gospel is put to the test by the way Christians respond to the cry of all those, in every part of the world, who suffer unjustly from the baleful spread of an exclusion that, by generating poverty, foments conflicts. The more vulnerable are increasingly marginalised, lacking their daily bread, employment and a future, while the rich are fewer and ever more wealthy. Let us be challenged to compassion by the cry of those who suffer: ‘the programme of the Christian is a heart that sees’.”
 
In today’s Hong Kong, injustice is exhibited in various forms. The cries of the poor are often ignored under rapid economic and social development. To us as Christians, this is also the moment when the Lord calls us, urging us to identify the face of Jesus among these people and issues. 
 
Just like the Lord who has the ability to forgive and heal us, we should also be the yeast to transform the world. We recognise that, united under the cross of Jesus Christ, we call on his grace to resolve injustice and his mercy to treat the sin which has caused division. 
 
During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, let us pray that Christians will unite to speak out for the needy in society and bear witness to the gospel. SE