Wednesday, January 21, 2009

General Audience January 21st: 'I will make of them one nation upon the earth.'

Again, to a well-filled hall, the Holy Father spoke in response to the text from Ezekiel in which the prophet is told by God to take two pieces of wood and join them together, the one representative of Judah, and the other of Joseph. (If I heard correctly, the text had been specially chosen for the Week of prayer for Christian Unity, by an ecumenical group under the auspices of the appropriate Pontifical Commission.)

By referring us to Christ's prayer on the Eve of His Passion, his Holiness drew us immediately into the heart and meaning of this week, which he called a 'precious spiritual initiative'. He spoke of the unity between the Father and the Son. Each Christian has the urgent responsibility to strive in every way possible towards the fulfilment of Christ's prayer, 'That they may be one, even as I and the Father are one'. In this sense, in seeking Christian unity, we are praying for a gift from the essence of God.(The last phrase is mine and not the Holy Father's but it is what I understood him to mean.)

Turning to the Ezekiel text, Pope Benedict saw in its reference to the dispersal of the people throughout the nations, the necessity that they should re-unite, should return from their idolatries and purify their hearts from all rebellion. He counselled patience in the face of obvious difficulties on the road to unity and reminded us that only Christ can fulfil the Divine promise made at the end of the text. This is why we must pray and work for unity; it is why, in answer to the call of Vatican II, every Christian should abnegate self and undergo an interior conversion of the heart; it is why we should be humble before the Word of God.

The Holy Father then gave thanks to God for the opportunities he himself had been given during the past year, to intensify dialogue, both in the Vatican and during his Apostolic journeys. He mentioned several Churches and ecclesial communities in the West. From the East he mentioned in particular Bartholomew who had presided at Vespers with him at the close of the Synod of Bishops. And he noted that although difficulties had not been ignored, there was a will to spiritual convergence and an increase in brotherly warmth. He offered condolences to the Russian Orthodox in their grief for the loss of Alexei II and prayed for those who will elect the new Patriarch.

Before concluding Pope Benedict urged us yet again to profit from this week and left us with the vision of St. Paul: that we should be of one heart, one spirit, one hope: 'One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism'.

Later his Holiness exhorted the Englsih speaking pilgrims to pay attention to the Word, deepen prayer and intensify dialogue. Yet again, there were no groups present from Britain to hear him, unless I missed the first group being named because the French commentator spoke over the Holy Father's English. I do wish they wouldn't do that!!!

1 comment:

Confiteor said...

Hi Jane,

I've posted regarding the Williamson affair on my blog.

Holy Smoke is a cesspool; I'm staying away from it.

I pray that the Pope is not influenced by political pressure groups. Sadly, it wouldn't be the first time. He's only human. I pray that the rumors about the lifting of the excommunications are true. It would be an act of great courage and a sign that the Holy Father is serious about the restoration of Tradition ... such issues are of greater moment than the silly rantings of Bishop Williamson.