VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II’s address today before the recitation of the midday Angelus with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Yesterday began the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,” which is observed every year from Jan. 18 to 25 and, in the Southern Hemisphere, around Pentecost. The intentions for this “Week” were prepared by a mixed international commission, made up of Catholic representatives and of the “Faith and Constitution” Commission of the World Council of Churches.
The theme this year is “We Have This Treasure in Clay Jars,” taken from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (see 4:7). The knowledge of divine glory, reflected in the face of Christ, shines in our hearts; however, we carry this treasure “in clay jars,” that is, in the frailty of our human condition, “to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
The reconstruction of the unity of all the baptized is, in effect, a gift from God, and our effort alone is not sufficient to bring it about, but when Christians come together, see themselves as brothers, collaborate to alleviate sufferings, and pray for unity, they contribute to make the face of Christ and his glory shine.
2. On this second day of the “Week of Prayer,” the verse proposed for meditation is taken from the same text of the Apostle and says: “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained” (2 Corinthians 4:8). Yes, we are afflicted by the divisions, and many are the barriers that still separate us! But we are not crushed, because the glory of the Lord, which shines in us, continues to guide us toward purification and reciprocal forgiveness, and infuses light and strength to the prayer that we raise together to God, so that he will heal the wound of our division.
3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us ask the Lord to make the communion among Christians grow to fullness, in truth and charity. May this be our joint invocation. We will renew it solemnly together next Jan. 25, at the closing of the “Week,” when I will preside over the celebration of vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, where events of great importance have taken place, which marked the ecumenical way.
Let us entrust this ardent prayer to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church.
[Translation by ZENIT]