The theme this year for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is ‘Crossing Barriers’ How often do we put up barriers between ourselves and God? Between ourselves as Christians? Between ‘us’ and ‘the world’? Barriers can be symbolised by crossed or folded arms in a defensive gesture. We often do this to block out threat, danger and as an act of self protection. Often this gesture reminds me of the story of the Raising of Lazarus – we bind ourselves in fear, ‘old ways’ and in defence from hurts – yet the message of Jesus is one of freedom. His words to Lazarus ‘Come out’ are an invitation to us to unfold our ‘psychological arms’ to reach out, to be free of all that holds us back from the fullness of life that He promised to give us.St Augustine reminds us ‘You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You’. To find real release from fear, hurt and danger we need to unfold, open ourselves to cross the barriers that want to keep us prisoner so that we can bathe in the light of the intimacy and relationship that Jesus calls us to.
When we have crossed our barriers and allowed their bonds to be loosed then we can be people who can break down divisions and promote unity and intimacy with God and with each other.
During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity let us pray and work hard to grow in relationship with one another so that we ‘may be one’ as Jesus prayed. May our barriers be broken down, unlocked by the power of the cross, so that we can be healing presence our world needs.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to the 25th January – the octave of St. Peter and St. Paul.
In September 2014 we will be celebrating 150 years of Catholic education at St Peter’s RC High School in Gloucester and 50 years on our current site!
Many of you like me will have been glued to the football World Cup in Brazil. I was reminded of the necessity of individuals working together as a team. Every player whatever their individual position needs to work as a united body – trusting, passing, moving, allowing everyone’s individuals abilities to flourish for the team. Through my work as the Catholic Chaplain at St Peter’s RC High School Gloucester I appreciate the importance of a united vision and collaborative team work. The care and development of young people is best served through a holistic approach which involves individuals, families and departments communicating and working together to assist the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the students.
The distinctiveness of roles and skills working together in unity with one vision seemed appropriate when reflecting on the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity three distinct persons, united in a dynamic relationship of love, acting in collaborative unity, and sharing as one in all their activities. From this dynamic over flow of love life is created. At our Baptism we were plunged INTO the life and community of the Trinity. Drawn into this dynamic life we become icons of the Holy Trinity, male and female created in the image of God, our lives and activity should reflect the characteristics of Trinity life. What are those characteristics? An over flowing self-giving love, recognition of the equality and giftedness of each person, a unity of vision and witness, and dynamic collaborative action.
We find our Christian identity in relationships, relationships of love with the Trinity and one another, which call us out from ourselves to become Kingdom builders in our world. We are called together, young and old, male and female, clergy and laity, through our baptismal vocation to use our distinctive gifts and personalities to empower each other, to collaborate together in ministry for mission, to reach out with united vision to build communities, families, the Church, places of work, the city, the nation, into communities that reflect the over flowing love of the Holy Trinity. I pray that today we will be filled to over flowing with the dynamic love of the Holy Trinity so that with one voice we will sing ” Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end Amen!”
This week at St Peter’s we are celebrating the lives of saints who have worked for the education of youth. On Tuesday Year 7 celebrated a Mass of St Angela Merici. St Angela who was born in the 15th century began the ‘game changing’ ministry of educating girls.
Year 8 will celebrate the life and vocation of St John Bosco on Friday 31st January. St John Bosco lived in the 19th century and gave his life to the education of boys.
Both of these saints remind us of the value of education in a Christian context – but most importantly they remind us that each and every one of us is valued and created by a God who loves us and calls us by our name.
Like St Angela and St John Bosco we have the privilege of walking along side our young people celebrating their achievements, supporting them in their challenges and encouraging their giftedness.
How good it is to celebrate our young people – because they are worth it!