INTRODUCTION TO THE THEME FOR THE YEAR 2022
We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him. (Mt 2:2)
According to the Gospel of Matthew (2:1-12), the appearance of the star in the sky of Judea represents a long-awaited sign of hope, that leads the Magi, and indeed all peoples of the earth, to the place where God's Incarnation is revealed. This star is a gift, an indication of God’s loving presence for all humanity. For Christians, Jesus is the light who has come into our darkness when, by the Holy Spirit, he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became human.
The Magi, representing the diversity of peoples of the world, are symbolic of the universal human desire to be in relationship with the Divine. They travel from far-off countries, represent diverse cultures, and they are driven by the common human hunger to see and know God present in and with human life. Christians are called to be a sign to the world of God bringing about this unity that he desires. Drawn from different cultures, races and languages, Christians share in a common search for Christ and a common desire to worship him. The mission of the Christian people, therefore, is to be a sign like the star, to encourage humanity in its hunger for God and to be a means by which God brings about the unity of all peoples.
A Focus on Christians in the Middle East
Christians of the Middle East chose the theme of the star to highlight their principle feast, celebrated longer than the Western focus on Christmas, because God’s salvation is revealed to the nations in Bethlehem through the visit of the Magi and at the Jordan River when Jesus is baptized. This focus on the theophany (the manifestation) is a treasure which Christians of the Middle East offer to their brothers and sisters around the world.
It is the mission of the Church to be the star that lights the way to Christ who is for us the light of the world. By being such a star the Church becomes a sign of hope in a world of troubles and a sign of God’s presence with his people, accompanying them through the difficulties of life. By word and through action Christians are called to light the way so that Christ might be revealed, once again, to the nations.
The Christians of the Middle East offer these resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity conscious that the world shares many of the travails and difficulties that they experience, and yearns for a light to lead the way to the Savior who can overcome darkness. The COVID-19 global pandemic, the ensuing economic crisis, and the failure of political, economic and social structures to protect the weakest and most vulnerable, have underlined the global need for a light to shine in the darkness. The star that shone in the east, the Middle East, two thousand years ago still calls us to the manger, to where Christ is born. It draws us to where the Spirit of God is alive and active, to the reality of our baptism, and to the transformation of our hearts.
In practice, serving the Gospel today requires a commitment to the human dignity of those impoverished and marginalized in our world. It requires of us transparency and accountability. It begs for our cooperation to provide relief to the afflicted, a welcome the displaced, relief to the burdened. The Gospel calls us to build a just and honest society, working together in visible unity so that, day after day, “God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).
The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity are pleased to offer a prayer inspired by the theme, which could be added to the other intentions of the Week of Prayer.