"Beyond the visible steps of ecumenical prayers, discussions or declarations, it seems to me that one of the most important ways we build unity is by countless little steps in our lives."
Rivka, from Jerusalem
Christian unity exists because of Christ. He called each and every one of us to be His disciple, and each of us in our own way tries to follow His teachings, to go through our lives in real relationship with Him, and to live up to the name that defines us as His. He prays for all of us, and we know that he deeply desires that we all be gathered together in His name. So when we pray for Christian unity, we know that our prayer is joined to Jesus’ hope and prayer for all of us. And when Christians from different Churches meet together to pray for unity, we are sharing His prayer, as well as testifying to the unity that is already present.
Beyond the visible steps of ecumenical prayers, discussions or declarations, it seems to me that one of the most important ways we build unity is by countless little steps in our lives. Often, we don’t even think of it as “building unity”, but just do together what comes naturally. I think of Taizé: most who visit it know that it is a community with a vocation of unity, a “parable of communion”: many of Taizé's visitors actually come from a broad variety of faith backgrounds. But, when spending time there, the emphasis is much more on sharing faith, hope, stories – and the joy in being together. Here and elsewhere, families with members from different confessions, or friends who join each other for holiday prayers and traditions, do so because of their affection for one another, because of the joy of the feasts; and in this way, they also discover the riches of other traditions. People working together to take care of children, or sick people, share a common goal – and so are more likely to meet as Jesus’ disciples, rather than emphasizing what still separates. Even the smallest gestures, like exchanging Christmas or Easter greetings at work, or bringing holiday cookies, can contribute to getting to know each other better, and to an atmosphere of mutual openness.
In this country, we have an amazing wealth of Christian traditions, and many occasions to meet – at work, in education or activities, through friendship and shared celebrations. We also know that we are frequently all seen as “Christians” by those from other religions, and so we all share the responsibility of living in a way that is consistent with our faith and its joy, of supporting each other in times of difficulty, and of trying to be witnesses to hope in a world that so badly needs it. All of this comes together to give us many chances to contribute to opening paths towards Christian unity; as we try to do that in our daily lives, we begin to glimpse just what that unity could really be, when the day comes.