"Contempt Has No Place in the Hearts of Believers"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a meditation jointly prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches for the third day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The week began Sunday and continues through Jan. 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle. The theme for 2009 is "That They May Become One in Your Hand" (Ezekiel 37:17).
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Christians Face-to-Face With Discrimination and Social Prejudice
Isaiah 58:6-12 -- "Do not hide yourself from your own kin"
Psalm 133 -- "How good it is when kindred live in unity"
Galatians 3:26-29 -- "You are all one in Christ Jesus"
Luke 18:9-14 -- "To some who trusted in their own righteousness"
In the beginning, human beings created in the image of God were but one in his hand. Sin, however, entered the hearts of men and women and since then we have built up all kinds of prejudice. Here it may be according to race or ethnic identity, in other places it can be sexual identity or the simple fact of being man or woman is cause for discrimination. In yet other places it is being disabled or adhering to a particular religion that is a reason for exclusion. All these discriminatory factors are dehumanizing and a source of conflict and great suffering.
In his earthly ministry, Jesus showed himself to be particularly sensitive regarding the common humanity of all men and women. He continually denounced discrimination of all sorts and the pride which some of his contemporaries derived from it. The just are not always those whom you would imagine. Contempt has no place in the hearts of believers.
Psalm 133 compares the joy of a life shared with sisters and brothers to the goodness of a precious oil or the dew of Mount Hermon. We are given to taste this joy with our sisters and brothers, each time we let go of our confessional prejudices within our ecumenical gatherings.
The restoration of the unity of all humankind is the common mission of all Christians. Together they must struggle against all discrimination. It is also their common hope because all are one in Christ and there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, man or woman.
Lord help us to recognize the discrimination and exclusion which damage societies. Direct our gaze and help us to recognize our own prejudices. Teach us to banish all contempt and to taste the joy of living together in unity. Amen.