As an ecumenical institution, we are expected to encourage Christians from different denominations to explore ways and means by which the prayer of Jesus to his Father, can be answered: -

“They believed that you sent me, I pray for them…. that they may be one as we are one.” ( John 17.8,9,11)

 During the past 55 years, the Anglican Centre in Rome has spared no effort to build up a spirit of mutual respect among Christians of different traditions. This spirit is at the heart of how we engage with others in dialogue and in promoting Christian unity in a divided world.

Our history as God’s people has not always been a happy one when it came to unity. Schisms and difficult relationships have been part and parcel of our journey as followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ. But it is also true that we have been able in recent times to create an atmosphere of respect and thus established more understanding among different groups than at previous times. There is definitely today a willingness to learn from each other, to have fruitful and frank discussions and to explore how work can be done together. So the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity gives us a golden opportunity to thank God for sustaining ecumenical initiatives over the past decades.

This year, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was prepared by the monastic community of Grandchamp. The theme chosen “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” seems highly appropriate. For the world is living through a dark period of uncertainty that instills fear and despair in the hearts of many. In the many conversations I have had lately with people from different cultural and religious backgrounds, it was clear that they believed that our broken and divided world needs to be restored and healed from its wounds.

The theme expresses the Grandchamp community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the church and in the human family. This is also the calling of all Christian communities.

As Christians living in today’s world, in spite of the hurtful aspects of life that we face, we are called to mobilize our faith in Christ so that the world knows that God is in charge. We are all challenged in our different ministries by the sad realities that our fellow human beings face. Corruption and unfairness, engender an unfriendly atmosphere. There is an urgent need to retrieve the inherent values that the Kingdom of God offers.

But we know, that it is not always easy to respond effectively to our calling. It requires an intimate relationship with our Lord and Saviour and a deep spirit of humility. Learning to “abide in the love of God” and “to walk together” is a symbol of our Christian unity.

I am thankful that this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity opens to us the privilege to seek to “abide in God’s love” so that we may “bear much fruit.” One of the fruits that will spring up from the presence of Christ in our lives is the ability to look out for one another. It is only then that we can show by concrete actions, God’s saving power.

All of us, who wish to reach our full potential and purpose in abiding in God’s love, irrespective of the Church traditions we come from, will have to first surrender to God, all that we are and to let go of the things that seem important to us. We are called to be like Christ in this present life so that the fruits that we bear, through our words and actions, can point others to God through whom we have salvation and peace.