Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Day 2 Reflection
Day 2 (January 19), Called to be Messengers of Joy
Philippians 2:1-5—Make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind….Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.
Meditation—Living the Virtues of Joy and Humility
It seems to me that joy comes from inside of us. Material goods can make us happy but living in the Spirit with our hearts transformed in love brings something deeper-- joy. There is a certain joy in being united with other believers. At least this has been my experience.
On October 30th, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs issued a document—a Declaration on the Way [to unity]. This summary of 50 years of International and National Dialogues was greeted with much more joy than I could have imagined. I had expected this joy from Lutheran-Catholic married couples. But it was more widespread. Numerous people rejoiced that so much had been achieved and seemed energized to continue on the way.
To continue I will also need the humility St. Paul mentions in connection with joy. I/we need the humility to say: I have something to share and something to learn from my Lutheran colleagues. I do not have all the answers. I need to listen with my head and heart and see what the Spirit is saying to me through them.
I also need to go deeper in humility. St. Francis de Sales [d. 1622], speaks of a 3rd and deeper stage of humility where we accept our humiliations. I am only able to stay at this stage for brief periods of time. I don’t want to think about my humiliations too much. My own tendency to avoid humiliation sometimes comes into focus in dialogue. Some episodes of Catholic Church history are humiliating. Recently I found that I was avoiding the chapter in a book on the Middle Ages that details the treatment of the Jewish people. It is hard reading.
My joy is that with the document Nostra Aetate of the Second Vatican Council we have established a new relationship with the Jewish people. My joy is that Lutherans and Catholics are coming closer together. As St. Paul says to the Philippians, let us be humble like Christ and experience the joy of the Spirit.
God of love, look upon our willingness to serve you despite our spiritual poverty and limited abilities. Fulfil the deepest longings of our hearts with your presence. Fill our broken hearts with your healing love so that we may love as you have loved us. Grant us the gift of unity so that we may serve you with joy and share your love with all. This we ask in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Father John Crossin, OSFS is executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He tweets @crossinusccb.