Wednesday, January 25, 2012

CHRISTIAN UNITY REQUIRES INDIVIDUAL CONVERSION

Today we end the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Holy Father gave the following address at his Wednesday Audience, in case you missed it, here is a copy.

VATICAN  CITY, 25 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this  morning's general audience to Christ's priestly prayer during the Last  Supper, as narrated in chapter 17 of the Gospel of St. John. In order to  understand this prayer "in all its immense richness", said the  Pope, it is important to see it in the context of the Jewish feast of  atonement, Yom Kippur, in which the high priest seeks atonement first for  himself, then for the order of priests and finally for the community as a  whole. Likewise, "that night Jesus addressed the Father at the moment in  which He offered Himself. He, priest and victim, prayed for Himself, for the  Apostles and for all those who would believe in Him".
The prayer which Jesus prays for Himself is the request for His own  glorification. "It is in fact more than a request", the Holy Father  said, "it is a declaration of willingness to enter freely and generously  into the Father's plan, which is accomplished through death and resurrection.  ... Jesus begins His priestly prayer by saying: 'Father, the hour has come;  glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you'. The glorification Jesus  seeks for Himself, as High Priest, is to be fully obedient to the Father, an  obedience which leads Him to fulfil His filial status: 'So now, Father,  glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence  before the world existed'".
The second part of Jesus' prayer is His intercession for the disciples who  have followed Him, and His request that they may be sanctified. Jesus says:  'They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  Sanctify them in the truth'. Benedict XVI explained how "To sanctify  means to transfer something - a person or an object - to God. This involves  two complementary aspects: on the one hand, the idea of 'segregation' ...  from man's personal life in order to be completely given over to God; on the  other hand there is the idea of 'being sent out', of mission. Having been  given to God, the consecrated thing or person exists for others. ... A person  is sanctified when, like Jesus, he is segregated from the world, set aside  for God in view of a task and, for this reason, available for everyone. For  disciples this means continuing Jesus' mission".
 In the third phase of the priestly prayer, "Jesus asks the Father to  intervene in favour of all those who will be brought to the faith by the  mission inaugurated by the Apostles. ... 'I ask not only on behalf of these,  but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word'. ...  Jesus prays for the Church in all times, He also prays for us. ... The main  element in Jesus' priestly prayer for His disciples is His request for the  future unity of those who will believe in Him. This unity is not a worldly  achievement. It derives exclusively from divine unity and comes down to us  from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit".
  By this priestly prayer Jesus establishes the Church, "which is nothing  other than the community of disciples who, through their faith in Christ as  the One sent by the Father, receive His unity and are involved in Jesus'  mission to save the world by leading it to a knowledge of God".
 Benedict XVI invited the faithful to read and meditate upon Jesus priestly  prayer, and to pray to God themselves, asking Him "to help us enter  fully into the plan He has for each of us. Let us ask Him to consecrate us to  Himself, that we may belong to Him and show increasing love for others, both  near and far. Let us ask Him to help us open our prayers to the world, not  limiting them to requests for help in our own problems, but remembering our  fellow man before the Lord and learning the beauty of interceding for others.  Let us ask Him for the gift of visible unity among all those who believe in  Christ, ... that we may be ready to respond to anyone who asks us about the  reasons for our hope".

 

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