VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the commentary prepared jointly by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches for Saturday, the second day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
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Give Thanks in All Circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5: 18)
“The Lord indeed is God” (1 Kings 18:20-40)
“The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23)
“Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5: (12a)13b-18)
“Father, I thank you for having heard me” (John 11:17-44)
Praying is rooted in the trust that God is powerful and faithful. God alone is the one who holds all in his hands, the present and the future. His word is credible and truthful.
The story of Elijah in 1 Kings impressively demonstrates the oneness of God. Elijah berates the apostates who worship Baal, who is not answering their prayers. Yet when Elijah prays to the one God of Israel, the response is immediate and miraculous. Realizing this, the people turned their hearts back to God.
Psalm 23 is a profound confession of trust. It depicts a person who believes that God guides him and stays with him also in the darkness of life and in situations of desolation and oppression.
We may find circumstances that may be difficult, even turbulent. We may have moments of despair and resignation. Sometimes we feel that God is hidden. But he is not absent. He will manifest his power to liberate in the midst of human struggle. Thus we give thanks to him in all circumstances.
The raising of Lazarus from the dead is one of the most dramatic scenes recorded in John’s gospel. It is a manifestation of Christ’s power to break the bonds of death and an anticipation of the new creation. In the presence of the people Jesus prays aloud, thanking his Father for the mighty deeds he will do. God’s saving work is accomplished through Christ so that all will come to believe.
The ecumenical pilgrimage is a way in which we realize the wondrous deeds of God. Christian communities which have been separated from each other come together. They discover their unity in Christ and come to understand that they are each part of one church and need one another.
The vision of unity can be darkened. It is sometimes threatened by frustrations and tensions. The question may arise whether we Christians are truly called to stay together. Our continuous praying sustains us as we look to God and trust in him. We are confident that he is still at work in us and will lead us to the light of his victory. His kingdom begins with our reconciliation and growing unity.
God of all creation, hear your children as we pray. Help us keep our faith and trust in you. Teach us to give thanks in all circumstances, relying on your mercy. Give us truth and wisdom, that your church may arise to new life in one fellowship. You alone are our hope. Amen.