Today (Friday, January 21) marks the fourth day in the eight day Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. During this week, daily scripture references, meditations and prayers are offered for readers’ reflection. (Material provided courtesy of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, Garrison, New York.)
Day 4, Devoted themselves to… fellowship…
Isaiah 58:6-10, Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?
Psalm 37:1-11, Trust in the Lord and do good.
Acts 4:32-37, Everything they owned was held in common.
Matthew 6:25-34, Strive first for the kingdom of God.
The sign of continuity with the apostolic Church is “devotion to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers.” The Church of today, however, points us to the practical consequences of such devotion — sharing. Today’s reading links such radical sharing with the powerful
apostolic “testimony to the resurrection of Jesus.”
Such a sharing of resources characterizes the life of Christian people. It is a sign of their continuity with the first Christians. It is a sign and a challenge to all the churches. It links proclamation of the Gospel, the celebration of Eucharist and the fellowship (or communion) of the Christian community with radical equality and justice for all. As such sharing is a testimony to the resurrection of Jesus, and a sign of continuity with the apostolic Church of Jerusalem, it is equally a sign of our unity with one another.
There are many ways of sharing. There is the radical sharing of the apostolic church where nobody was left in need. There is the sharing of one another’s burdens, struggles, pain, suffering, joys and achievements, blessings and healing. There is also an “ecumenical gift exchange” in the sharing of gifts and insights from one church tradition to another even in our separation from one another. Such generous sharing is a practical consequence of our devotion to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship; it is a consequence of our prayer for Christian unity.
God of Justice, your giving is without bounds. We thank you that you have given what we need. Inspire us to be instruments of love, sharing all that you give us, as a witness to your generosity and justice. As followers of Christ, lead us to act together in places of want. We pray in the name of Jesus, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.