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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


Jan 31, 2004
Ethiopian Orthodox Church

I am going away and I am coming to you. (John 14:28)

Reading from the Gospel (Matthew 25:1-12)

"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'.

Commentary

Jesus speaks about his leaving and promises at the same time his coming again. With these words Jesus indicates to his disciples that his way will lead through the darkness of passion and death to the glory of his resurrection. With Easter the glorious revelation of the coming new creation becomes visible. We trust in the resurrection of Christ and we are waiting for his final glorification. This is the hope of salvation and peace for all humankind and the whole earth. This hope unifies us as Christians and is a vital source of nourishment for our life. This hope is grounded in God’s word and promise. Like Habakkuk we are waiting for God to fulfil his word. Like the psalmist we are looking at God’s faithfulness.
We wait in hope and solidarity with this world. Many people ask for God’s presence. They are without hope, full of doubts, fear and sorrows. They see injustice, grief and violence and cannot believe in a future of justice and peace. As people who wait, Christians share the cries and tensions of this world. We do not merely stand beside it. We often feel our powerlessness, and ask questions about God’s concealment from us. In hearing the cries of the world, we hear the longing for God’s peace, for the freedom of the children of God. The unity of Christians would be a strong sign for the world of the full birth of a new humanity.
Christ’s promise inspire us to trust in his power and truth. The story of the bridesmaids encourages us to a hope patient in Christ and in readiness. The time may be long but the day will come when the risen Lord will return and release us from all pain and suffering. Waiting for Christ’s glorious revelation is an opportunity for witness and mission. It is time for love and peace, for reunion and reconciliation. It is an occasion to share and support each other. So the hope in our heart for which we are longing will become visible and credible: the victory of God’s peace and the victory of God’s love will be made manifest.

Prayer

God, you reveal your glory in the life and in the power of your risen Son. We pray together, that your Kingdom Will come.
We long for the glorious day of Christ’s revelation when the kingdom of death and tears will end and your kingdom of peace, justice and love will be established forever. Amen.


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