19th January 2020 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

From this Sunday, all the Churches come together in prayer asking God for the gift of unity. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed in the Northern hemisphere from the 18th to the 25th January – the octave of the feast day of the conversion of St. Paul.

This year’s theme is “They Showed Us Unusual Kindness (cf. Acts 28:2)”, taken from the story of Paul’s shipwreck off the coast of Malta. Each year, a country or group of churches prepare the materials. The materials for the 2020 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the Christian churches in Malta and Gozo (Christians Together in Malta).

On 10th February many Christians in Malta celebrate the Feast of the Shipwreck of St Paul, marking and giving thanks for the arrival of Christian faith on these islands. The reading from the Acts of the Apostles used for the feast is the text chosen for this year’s Week of Prayer. Hospitality is a much needed virtue in our search for Christian unity. It calls us to a greater generosity to those in need. The people who showed unusual kindness to Paul and his companions did not yet know Christ, and yet it is through their unusual kindness that a divided people were drawn closer together. Our own Christian unity will be discovered not only through showing hospitality to one another, but also through loving encounters with those who do not share our language, culture or faith.

Speaking to a delegation of the Lutheran Church of Finland last Friday, Pope Fran- cis said: “As baptized Christians, we believe that Christ wishes to meet us precisely in those who are – both literally and figuratively – shipwrecked in life. Those who show hospitality grow richer, not poorer. Whoever gives, receives in return. For the humanity we show to others makes us in a mysterious way partakers in the good- ness of the God who became man. ”

The Bow Food Bank provides our community with such opportunity. We share with other Christians, people of other faiths or none our concern for the more disadvantaged in our local community.
May the power of this experience make us grow in our desire for greater under- standing and unity.

Fr Javier

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