Prayer for Christian Unity at the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM – Every year, the faithful of the Churches of Jerusalem gather together for a week of prayer for Christian unity. This Wednesday, January 27th, the celebration was held in the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, attended by many representatives of the various churches of the Holy Land.
The celebration, presided over by His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal, opened one of the most used hymns of the Church, “Veni Creator Spiritus,” sung in Arabic and Latin by the seminarians’ choir from Beit Jala. Many representatives of different churches of Jerusalem were present, some of whom actively participated in the celebration by reading from Sacred Scripture or prayer intention.
After the proclamation of the Gospel, sung in Arabic by Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey, Melkite Archbishop of Jerusalem, Father Jamal Khader, Rector of the Seminary of Beit Jala, preached in English. He stressed the need to prepare our hearts, as the farmer prepares the land for it to become rich and can bear fruit, and he asked: “Is our soil prepared to receive the seeds of unity?” He strongly challenged the congregation, asking the faithful to open their hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to understand how God wants unity for his Church. He also recalled how diversity is rich, insisting that unity is not uniformity.
In the second part of his homily, Father Jamal spoke of the witness of blood ecumenism in action in the Middle East, showing that in suffering, Christians are already united: “When I met with Iraqi Christians refugees in Jordan, after listening to their stories, I could not ask them to what church they belonged! They spoke of their faith in Jesus, how they were prepared to lose everything to keep their faith. Not one of them mentioned his/her specific church. They suffer as one, for their faith unites them. Their suffering is a blood communion, a communion that gives witness, a communion in martyrdom. Before them, we should feel ashamed of our divisions and our quarrels.” Finally, he recalled the words of Pope Francis during his visit to the Holy Sepulchre in May 2014: “…many Christians are persecuted for their faith in the risen Lord. When Christians of different confessions suffer together, side by side, and assist one another with fraternal charity, there is born an ecumenism of suffering, an ecumenism of blood, which proves particularly powerful not only for those situations in which it occurs, but also, by virtue of the communion of the saints, for the whole Church as well.”
This communion of the whole Church was particularly palpable through the common prayer of the Creed and the Our Father and at the Sign of Peace exchanged at the end of the celebration. The sign by which the “Church asks for peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity”  provided the opportunity to the faithful members of the different churches of Jerusalem to demonstrate their desire for unity.
Calixte des Lauriers
 General Instruction of the Roman Missal- The Rite of Peace