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January 1991

Praise the Lord, all Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him. (Rom. 15:11)

This month's Word of Life is a verse from psalm 117, which St Paul quotes to show how the love of God reaches all the peoples of the earth. From the very earliest times, they too have been called to praise the Lord together. The same love with which God once called and chose Israel now welcomes the Gentiles who have been converted to the Gospel of Jesus and makes them part of his people in the history of salvation.

In addressing the Christian community at Rome, which was made up of some people who had been Jews and some who had been Gentiles, St Paul uses this phrase to exhort them to praise God by welcoming one another in the way God had welcomed each of them through Jesus.

Praise the Lord, all Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him.

This month's Word of Life, seen in its context, is an invitation to the Christian communities to praise God. These communities are called to praise him first of all through their harmony, unity and peace, welcoming one another and overlooking the differences that stem from the particular mentalities, traditions and customs of individuals or groups. Naturally, when it is a question of aspects of faith which are fundamental and which cannot be renounced, this unity requires their wholehearted acceptance and agreement by each person.

Secondly they are called to praise him by being open towards all those who belong to other religions and cultures, or even those who are simply non-believers.

In fact, the Second Vatican Council referred to all those people who try to live a good life and sincerely seek the truth and said that they too can be saved. It encouraged everyone to see these people too as potential members of the great family of the children of God, called to praise him by building unity amongst all peoples in justice, love and true peace, in accordance with the plan of God.

Praise the Lord, all Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him.

How then shall we live the Word of Life this month? As we have just seen, it directs us first of all towards praising God by committing ourselves to build unity, harmony and peace within our communities. This can be done by always seeking all that can unite us and setting aside all that can divide us. By acting in this way we offer to God the most beautiful sacrifice and praise.

This Word of Life also invites us to extend this spirit of understanding and welcome to all the people of other religions, races and cultural traditions whom we meet in our society. We will discover that we have many principles and values in common with them.

As Christians we should be the first to give witness to this spirit of understanding and welcome. Isn't this the distinctive characteristic and responsibility Jesus left us? Did he not tell us that it is on the basis of this witness that others will recognise us as his true disciples? (cf. John 15:35)

Furthermore, in this month when most of the Christian world is celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we are invited to associate ourselves with all Christians united by the words of this very psalm. In this way continual praise will rise to God because this prayer is being said all over the world.

Chiara Lubich

 

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