These martyrs of the early Church, the first a pope and the second a soldier, show us courage in the face of conflict. Their courage came from their faith in Jesus. It was faith in his victory over sin and death. We share this faith with the saints and with Christians everywhere. As we pray for full unity among us, let us reflect on the last part of the introduction that the Polish ecumenical group wrote for this year’s Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, the theme of which is “We will all be changed by the Victory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As we pray for and strive towards the full visible unity of the church we - and the traditions to which we belong - will be changed, transformed and conformed to the likeness of Christ. The unity for which we pray may require the renewal of forms of Church life with which we are familiar. This is an exciting vision but it may fill us with some fear! The unity for which we pray is not merely a “comfortable” notion of friendliness and co-operation. It requires a willingness to dispense with competition between us. We need to open ourselves to each other, to offer gifts to and receive gifts from one another, so that we might truly enter into the new life in Christ, which is the only true victory.
There is room for everyone in God’s plan of salvation. Through His death and resurrection, Christ embraces all irrespective of winning or losing, “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3,15). We too can participate in His victory! It is sufficient to believe in Him, and we will find it easier to overcome evil with good.