January 2017

Pope's Prayer Intention

Christian Unity: That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.

Urgent Prayer Intention

Homeless people affected by the cold: In these days of such great cold, I invite you to think of all the people living on the streets, affected by the cold and often indifference. We pray for them and ask the Lord to warm the hearts of others to help them.

Jesus taught that division leads to weakness. He said: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste” (Lk 11: 17). Is that true, even for the Church, through which the Kingdom of God is breaking into the world? Yes. Unfortunately the divisions among Christians make us weak. We cannot confront the evils in our world because our energy is sapped by the divisions among us.

Who is behind division? Pope Francis’ answer is clear: “The devil plants evil where there is good, trying to divide people, families and nations.” Weakened by division, the People of God become fair game for devilish assaults. Satan wants to destroy the Church and humanity. We can’t ignore our divisions.

Pope Francis said: “Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me. On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation. We must always be on guard, on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.”
By means of prayer and works of charity, we can stay close to the one who won the victory over evil and division. Pope Francis exhorts us: “Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do business with the devil!”

We meet Jesus in both prayer and in whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters (see Mt 25: 31-45). One concrete way that we Christians can come together, even though we are divided by doctrines and the way we worship, is by working together to protect human life.
In his encyclical The Gospel of Life Pope St. John Paul II wrote: “Service of the Gospel of life increasingly appears as a valuable and fruitful area for positive cooperation with our brothers and sisters of other Churches and ecclesial communities.” And in his encyclical about ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint, he wrote: “With increasing frequency Christians are working together to defend human dignity…Before the world, united action in society on the part of Christians has the clear value of a joint witness to the name of the Lord.”

We join Pope Francis this month in praying for Christian unity. We ask that this prayer may lead us to work with other Christians to meet the challenges facing humanity.

Reflection and Discussion

How are discouragement and gossip a matter of “doing business with the devil”?

How do they contribute to divisions?

Scripture

Luke 11: 14-23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
John 13: 34-35 “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

For Reflection:

Pope Francis’ Homily and Joint Statement on the occasion of his trip to Sweden: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2016/documents/papa-francesco_20161031_omelia-svezia-lund.html

Resources for the Celebration of the 2017 Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/weeks-prayer-doc/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20160531_week-prayer-2017_en.html

Pope Francis’ Message for the 2017 World Day of Peace: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20161208_messaggio-l-giornata-mondiale-pace-2017.html