Cardinal’s reflection for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is observed from the 18-25 January. The theme this year is ‘You shall love the Lord your God… and your neighbour as yourself’ (Lk 10:27). Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops’ Conference, has recorded a short reflection on this year’s theme.


Listen to the Cardinal’s reflection. With thanks to the Diocese of Westminster.


This Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has as its theme ‘Love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as yourself’. It’s a theme that takes us directly to the heart of our Christian living.

The first part of the command, ‘Love the Lord, your God’, calls us to a constant prayer and adoration before the Lord. This is so important because it involves a recognition that, at the end of the day, we are created by God and sustained in being by God. We are created persons. And therefore this love and adoration of the Lord saves us from all idolatry.

Now, idolatry is a heavy word, but basically, it means putting other things in the place of God, making other things the most important ambition, destination of our lives. And we need to be saved from idolatry, if we are seriously to serve the lord our God. And when we come before him recognising that we are his creatures, we know that we are made out of love, and that we are clothed with mercy to enable us to respond to the Lord whole-heartedly.

Now, the second part, ‘Love your neighbour’, flows directly from this. Because once we see ourselves in this right light, then we see our neighbour in the same light too; and we see in our neighbour the creation beloved of God and clothed in mercy.

So we can say that there can be no true religious experience that is deaf to the cry of the world. And it is this willingness to serve which flows from the adoration of God that is our hope, that this is the source of why we look to the future with a certainty that this is an unfolding of God’s purpose in our lives, in our communities, and in our world.

Let us pray:

Lord God, we thank you for the gift of Christian hope.
It enables us to live through the uncertainties of this time with a certain hope for the future.
We thank you for giving flesh to the hope that you give us in the person of Jesus.
He leads us to adore you, Father, and the fullness of Godhead Son and Holy Spirit,
and then to be moved to serve all your children in his name
who lives and reigns forever and ever.