Today marks the beginning of the 2018 International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This is an important period of time to help us feel the weight of Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one” (John 17:21). Hiding from our division only weakens the Church.
This year’s theme is: Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power (cf. Exodus 15:6)
During these days we will be sharing with you the biblical reflections from the official handbook, which was drafted this year by the Churches of the Caribbean. (You can download it here.)
Day 1 | You shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt
Leviticus 19:33-34 (You shall love the alien as yourself)
Psalm 146 (The Lord watches over the strangers)
Hebrews 13:1-3 (Some have entertained angles without knowing it)
Matthew 25:31-46 (I was a stranger and you welcome me)
After becoming the first independent black republic, Haiti extended hospitality to other enslaved peoples in search of freedom. Recent times have brought severe economic hardship to Haitians, many of whom have left home, making perilous journeys in hope of a better life. In many instances they have been met with inhospitality and legal barriers. The Caribbean Council of Churches has been involved in advocacy to challenge those nations that are restricting or stripping Haitians of citizenship rights.
The Israelites’ memory of being strangers in the land of Egypt lay behind the Law’s instruction that God’s people were to welcome the stranger in their midst. The memory of their own exile was expected to prompt empathy and solidarity with contemporary exiles and strangers. Like Israel, our common Christian experience of God’s saving action goes together with remembering both alienation and estrangement – in the sense of estrangement from God and from his kingdom. This kind of Christian remembering has ethical implications. God has restored our dignity in Christ, and made us citizens of his kingdom, not because of anything we did to deserve it but by his own free gift in love. We are called to do likewise, freely and motivated by love. Christian love is to love like the Father, that is to recognize dignity and to give dignity, and thereby to help bring healing to the broken human family.
You belong to no culture and land but are Lord of all,
you call us to welcome the stranger in our midst.
Help us by your Spirit,
to live as brothers and sisters,
welcoming all in your name,
and living in the justice of your kingdom.
This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Church has much to teach us about ecumenism and God’s call to unity. Learn more with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Collection.