The prayer for Christian Unity makes a stop at St Saviour

The prayer for Christian Unity makes a stop at St Saviour

The Custos of the Holy Land: “Persecuted because we are Christians. Those who attack us already see us as a single body.”

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity  is at its halfway stage in the Holy Land. On the fifth day, the ecumenical prayer is hosted by the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land, in St Saviour’s church, Jerusalem.

It is an appointment that is “particularly significant in these difficult times we are living in, characterized by conflict, hatred, the desire for vendetta instead of yearning for unity and reconciliation,” the Custos of the Holy Land,  fra Francesco Patton, who presided over the prayer, emphasized.

The prayer at St Saviour’s

This year, the topic of the Week of Prayer is “You shall love the Lord, your God…and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10,27). Today as well, many faithful – religious and lay people – have come together to ask God for the gift of unity between the disciples of Jesus.  Gregorian chanting, typical of the Latin and Franciscan tradition, accompanied and underlined the main passages of the prayer. After the initial greetings and a penitential prayer, all those present exchanged the sign of peace, then the Word of God was proclaimed. After hearing the Word, the Gospel was enthroned.

In his homily, after the reading of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10, 25-37), the Custos of the Holy Land invited the assembly to “reflect on the commandment of love” and “how we can put this commandment into action as Churches and Christian communities of the Holy Land.” According to fra Patton “our meeting point is not to be sought first of all on the theoretical level of ideas, but on the practical level of love for the people God puts on our path, without distinction of gender, age, ethnicity and even religion.”

Persecuted because we are Christians

The Custos then suggested stepping into the shoes of the man in the parable, robbed, beaten and abandoned in the middle of the road. “As Christians in the Holy Land, we already have an ecumenical element that unites us, the element of common suffering.  We are not targeted simply because we are Catholics or Orthodox or Armenians or Syriacs or Copts or Anglicans or Lutherans” but “we are targeted simply because we are Christians. Those who want to attack us already see us as a single body. I think that in this there is a reminder by the Spirit so that we also learn to recognize ourselves increasingly as part of a single body.”

The celebration continued with the prayer of the faithful and reciting the Lord’s Prayer in various languages and the final blessing given by the Custos of the Holy Land.

Marinella Bandini