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What does God require of us? (cf. Micah 6:6-8)

 

DAY 6 Walking beyond barriers

Readings
Ruth 4.13-18 The offspring of Ruth and Boaz
Psalm 113 God the helper of the needy
Ephesians 2.13-16 Christ has broken down the dividing wall between us
Matthew 15.21-28 Jesus and the Canaanite woman

Commentary
To walk humbly with God means walking beyond barriers that divide and damage
the children of God. Christians in India are aware of the divisions among
themselves. The treatment of Dalits within the churches and between them is a
church-dividing issue that betrays the biblical vision of that unity for which we
pray this week. St Paul lived with the devastating divisions in the earliest Christian
community between Gentile and Jewish Christians. To this barrier and to every
subsequent one, Paul proclaims that Christ ―is our peace; in his flesh he has made
both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall between us.‖
Elsewhere Paul writes, ―As many of you were baptized into Christ have clothed
yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or
free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus‖
(Galatians 3.27-28). In Christ, all the deep barriers of the ancient world—and their
modern successors—have been removed because on the Cross Jesus created in
himself one new humanity.
In a world in which religious barriers are often difficult to cross, Christians who
are a tiny minority in the multi-religious context of India remind us of the
importance of interreligious dialogue and cooperation. Matthew‘s Gospel tells of
the difficult journey for Jesus—and his disciples— to cross the barriers of religion,
culture and gender when he is confronted by a Canaanite woman who pleads with
Jesus to cure her daughter. The disciples‘ visceral instinct to send her away and
27
Jesus‘ own hesitation are overcome by her faith, and by her need. From hence
Jesus and his disciples were able to cross the imposed human barriers and
boundaries of the ancient world. Such is already present in the Hebrew Bible. The
book of Ruth, the Moabite woman of a different culture and religion, concludes
with a list of her offspring with the Israelite Boaz. Their child Obed was the father
of Jesse, the father of David. The ancestry of the hero-King of ancient Israel
reflects the fact that God‘s will may be fulfilled when people cross the barriers of
religion and culture. The walk with God today requires that we cross the barriers
that separate Christians from one another and from people of other faiths. The walk
towards Christian unity requires walking humbly with God beyond the barriers that
separate us from one another.

Prayer
Father, forgive us for the barriers of greed, prejudice, and contempt that we
continually build which separate us within and between churches, from people of
other faiths, and from those we consider to be less important than us. May your
Spirit give us courage to cross these boundaries, and to tear down the walls that
disconnect us from each other. Then with Christ may we step forth into unknown
terrain, to carry his message of loving acceptance and unity to all the world. God of
life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.

Questions
 What are the barriers that separate Christians in your community?
 What are the barriers that separate Christians from other religious traditions in
your community?
 What are the differences and similarities between walking beyond the barriers
that separate Christians from one another, and walking beyond those between
Christianity and other religions?

 

Annual brochure (pdf) jointly prepared and published by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.

Please note: This is the international version of the text of the Week of Prayer 2013. Kindly contact your local Bishops’ Conference or Synod of your Church to obtain an adaptation of this text for your local context.

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