Homily by Monsignor Seamus Conway at Sunday Mass, January 22, 2017.
This year, 2017, marks the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s sparking of one of Christianity’s deepest divisions. Last November, Pope Francis travelled to Sweden where he stood side by side with Lutheran leaders at events that commemorated the Reformation. His presence was an important sign that the slow and hesitant journey to Christian unity continues.
It is, of course, an arduous journey because of centuries of differences in doctrine and worship and governance and a history of conflict. But there has been, of course, much progress in the last forty years or so – improved relations, more openness and sharing of pastoral initiatives. The journey has to continue. Jesus, at the Last Supper, prayed that all might be one as He was one with the Father.
I was delighted to see in the televised Christmas Mass from Donnybrook Church, a local Protestant Minister, vested in the Sanctuary, lead the Congregation in the recitation of the Creed.
In recent years, we, in this parish, were privileged to present, with our Church of Ireland and Presbyterian neighbours, well attended Lenten series of talks and discussions. I have good memories of the open, friendly and active sharing which occurred on these evenings. For some years, also, we have ecumenically shared Prayer Around the Cross on Good Friday evening in this Church.
But we Christians live in an increasingly secular world. One cannot but feel that if we Christian Churches were united, we could speak with one voice and with effect. That is a good reason for all of us to open ourselves as much as we can to the action of the Holy Spirit. We do not know what a united Christian Church will be like. That is the Work of God. We should pray regularly, asking God to take us from where we are to where He wants us to be. So may He fill us with that faith, hope and love which embody the Gospel and may His Spirit make us one.