We have just begun the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18-25 January). Monday, 21 January, our country marks the birthday of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. The day after is set aside for prayer and penance in the hopes of ending both the legalization of abortion in our country and the desire for anyone to want an abortion. To paraphrase the comment in I John 5:6-8 about Spirit, water, and blood: the three events I have just mentioned are also “of one accord.” They hang together—all of them, in their way, hoping for change, for metanoia.
This “octave” of prayer was originally set to coincide, at the ending, with the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul—with the hope that one day, “separated brethren” would also see the light and come back to the Church. But it’s been 500 years (and longer between the Eastern and Western Churches); is there any hope? Always, there is! After all, as St Paul reminds us (Romans 8:24), we are saved in hope. But perhaps the path is different from what was once thought. Perhaps the way is embodied in a comment made by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher in a visit to Pope John XXIII before the announcement of Vatican II. When the Holy Father asked when the Anglicans would come back, the Archbishop replied that it was not possible to “come back,” but rather that we should go forward together. Can we? Yes. Will we? This is the only real question.
So at the point it is a dream. Martin Luther King, Jr also had a dream, and it is again one of conversion of hearts (black and white) to recognize that ALL God’s children are created equal and are brothers and sisters—truly to let freedom ring. Freedom from what? Freedom from blindness, hatred, bitterness: freedom to see and embrace the content of one’s character rather than the color of one’s skin—or the label of one’s denomination…
It is a dream, too, that by our own conversion we can recognize the unique value ALL God’s children have—including those still in process of being born. And let’s be honest: are we not ALL, no matter how young or old, still in process?? We are all, factually or metaphorically, still “in the womb.” We are ALL dependent persons, viable only because of our need for others to supply our needs. When we truly understand this, when we see the sacredness of every child conceived, no matter in what state of development, we will also understand the sacredness of marital intercourse and realize that this is not “recreation” but “re-creation,” in fact of “creation.” The marriage bed will truly be what it should be: a place of Sacrament, of reverence, of holiness. It will be a place of joy and not of “kicks.”
This week and this weekend, let’s dream—let’s dream about unity, respect, acceptance, dignity of life. Who does not, deep down, desire to live in such a world?
Let’s celebrate: to UNITY; to FREEDOM; to LIFE.