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January 1999

God will dwell with them; they will be his people. (Rev. 21:3)

During the month of January, Christians throughout the world are joining together in prayer and special meetings to celebrate their common faith. The theme chosen for this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is taken from the book of Revelation. Let's read the entire passage: See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will Wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away. (Rev. 21: 1-7)

This month's Word of Life is a challenge: if we want to be part of his people, we must allow him to live among us. How is this possible, and what can we do in order to have a foretaste, while still on earth, of the endless joy we will have in the vision of God?

This is exactly what Jesus revealed to us, this is the very meaning of his coming: to communicate his life of love with the Father, so that we too can live it.

We Christians can live this sentence even now and have God among us. To have him among us requires certain conditions, as affirmed by the Fathers of the Church. For Basil, the essential condition is living according to the will of God; for John Chrysostom, it is to love our neighbour as Jesus did; for Theodore the Studite, it is mutual love; and for Origen, it is har-mony in thought and in feeling, which arrives at that concord which 'unites, and contains the Son of God.(1)

In Jesus' teachings there is the key for allowing God to dwell among us: 'Love one another as I have loved you.' (c.f. John 13:34). Mutual love is the key to the presence of God. 'If we love one another, God lives in us,' (1 John 4:12) because 'where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them' (Matt. 18:20), says Jesus.

God will dwell with them; they will be his people.

In this light then, the fulfilment of all the promises of the Old Covenant: 'My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people' (Ezek. 37:27), is not distant and unattainable.

Everything is already accomplished in Jesus who continues, beyond his historical existence, to be present among those who live according to the new law of mutual love, that is, the rule that makes them a people, the people of God.

This Word of Life is therefore an urgent call, especially for us Christians, to witness through love to the presence of God. 'By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.' (John. 13:35) This living out of the new commandment is the basic condition for the presence of Jesus among people.

We cannot do anything unless this presence is guaranteed, a presence which gives meaning to the supernatural family that Jesus brought on earth for all humanity.

God will dwell with them; they will be his people.

First of all, it is up to us, Christians, even though we belong to different ecclesial communities, to let the world see 'one people' made up of every ethnic group, race, and culture, adults and children, sick and healthy. One people to which we can apply the words said of the first Christians: 'See how they love one another and are ready to give their lives for one another.'

This is the 'miracle' humanity is waiting for in order to regain hope. It will also give an essential contribution to progress in ecumenism, the journey towards full and visible unity among Christians. It's a 'miracle' within our reach, or better, of the One who, dwelling among his own united by love, can change the destiny of the world and lead all humanity towards unity.

Chiara Lubich

1. Comm. In Matth., XIII. 15 (PG 13: 1131).


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