By Fr. Joseph DeFrancisco
Christmas Time teaches us the grace to once again celebrate God’s promise of salvation in and through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
The presence of God-with-us (Emmanuel), Jesus, is now and forevermore a resurrected and sacramental presence of universal peace, justice and love. Yet, we know that our human condition falls short in all three areas, within the Church and world at large. Nevertheless, Jesus believed that all three could be achieved through the building up of faith community, a community that challenges itself to work for peace, true justice and unconditional love for everyone.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus truly does pray for all religious believers. “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us…”(Jn.17:20-21). Jesus assured his disciples in his exhortation on the “Good Shepherd” that he will call together, into one, the House of Israel and the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Moreover, Jesus promised them, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. Yet, I will give my life for them and I will lead them to hear my voice. Then, there shall be one Shepherd and one flock.” (Jn.10:16ff). The call of Christian unity and religious unity was seriously addressed in the Second Vatican Council through its Decree on Ecumenism, “Unitatis Redintegratio” (1964). The Council fathers declared that the work of Christian unity was “one of the primary concerns of the entire Vatican Council (U.R, 1). “What has been revealed to the world in the person of Jesus Christ is not just a message of Redemption of the entire human race, but of also granting humanity the fullness of life and the gift of unity” (U.I.1.2).
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