Sunday, January 18, 2015

Working for Christian Unity

Today begins the week of prayer for Christian Unity that will end on Jan. 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Christians remember the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John 17:21: "that all be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; I pray that they may be [one] in us, that the world may believe that you sent me."

Nothing can compare to the harm done to the mission to evangelize given to the Church by Jesus than the divisions and disunity of those who believe in Jesus. Here is one of the more serious reasons for Christians not to attack each other, work to understand and respect each other and work for unity.

Both Catholic papers gave space to the Unity Octave and one article gave us questions and answers by the priest director of the Bishops' Committee for Church Unity and Religious Dialogue. Listed below are a few of the questions and answers. 

Why do we need to work for unity? Isn't it necessary for a family to work for harmony? One third of the Korean population is Christian. We are all in the family of Jesus and need to treat each other as family and friends. In living the Gospel we need to have the fellowship and brotherly love among ourselves. 

What are the works of the movement for unity in Korea?  Not only have we worked together in works for our neighbors but in national calamities and in  movements for human rights. We have worked together in the independence movement. We worked together in the democratization of the country in the 1970s; we have worked for the eradication of capital punishment and many other movements to better society. The translation of the Common Bible is probably the high point of working together.

By dialoguing and with study what changes can we hope to achieve? We will understand each other better. Catholics can refrain from saying that Protestants have left their home and are now without a mother, and Protestants can refrain from calling the Catholic Church Mary's Church. Catholics often say we are closer to the Buddhism than the Protestants. These and similar phrases do not help in getting to know and understand each other. We can hope for the day when Catholics and Protestants can discuss the Bible and even their religious life together.

What are the  biggest problems in achieving unity?   Christian history of Korea is short and many have accepted their religious belief as something private and not connected with others. Consequently the 
difficulty in changing one's prejudiced opinion of another. Faith life has to do mostly with our prayers and spiritual works but it is not expressed in our daily lives. This will take time says the priest, and a reason working with other Christians will be difficult. However, this is also the  reason we have to work together for unity.    

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