Pray Without Ceasing for the Conversion of Hearts
Meditation for Day 3 of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the commentary prepared jointly by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches for Sunday, the third day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
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"Admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted" (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
"The repentance of Nineveh" (Jonah 3:1-10)
"Create a pure heart in me" (Psalms 51:8-15)
"Encourage the faint-hearted" (1 Thessalonians 5:(12a)13b-18)
"A house of prayer" (Mark 11:15-17)
In the beginning and at the heart of the ecumenical enterprise can be found a pressing call to repentance and to conversion. We sometimes need to know how to call each other to task within our Christian communities as Paul invites us to do in the first epistle to the Thessalonians. If one or the other causes division, he should be rebuked; if some are afraid of all that a difficult reconciliation could imply, they should be encouraged.
Why hide the fact? If divisions between Christians exist, it is also through a lack of will to be committed to ecumenical dialogue and even, simply, to prayer for unity.
The Bible tells us how God sent Jonah to rebuke Nineveh and how the whole city repented. In the same way, Christian communities must listen to the Word of God and repent. In the course of the last century, we have not been lacking in prophets of unity who have made Christians aware of the unfaithfulness manifest in our divisions and reminding them of the urgency of reconciliation.
In the image of the vigorous intervention of Jesus in the temple, the call to Christian reconciliation can seriously call into question our narrow self-understanding. We too have a great need of purification. We need to know how to rid our hearts of all that prevents them from being a true house of prayer, concerned for the unity of all peoples.
Lord you desire truth deep-down within us: in the secret of our hearts, you teach us wisdom. Teach us to encourage each other along the road to unity. Show us the conversion necessary for reconciliation. Give to each of us a new, truly ecumenical heart, we pray you. Amen.