Matthew 2:3 “When king Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”
The presence of Christ turns the world upside down.
The Lord has come amongst us. Christ’s coming disturbs the ways of the world. In contrast to so many national leaders, the Lord comes in humility denouncing the evil of injustice and oppression that accompanies the ambition for power and status. The coming of Jesus calls for a change of heart and a transformation of life, so that people will be liberated from all that dehumanizes them and causes them suffering. Jesus shows us that God is with those who suffer because each person has a dignity as God’s beloved child. Thus, Jesus’ presence creates disturbance precisely because he rocks the boat of the rich and the powerful who work only for their own interests and neglect the common good. But, for those who work for peace and unity, Christ’s coming brings the light of hope.
When Christians work together for justice and peace, our efforts are more powerful. The answer to our prayer for Christian unity is made visible through us so that others can recognize Christ’s presence in the world today. By our words and actions, we can bring the light of hope to so many who are still living in the darkness of political unrest, poverty, and unjust discrimination. The Good News is that God is faithful, and he is always the one strengthening us and protecting us from harm and inspiring us to work for the good of others, especially those living in the darkness of suffering, hatred, violence, and pain.
O Lord, you have guided us out of darkness to Jesus. You have illumined the star of hope in our lives. Help us to be united in our commitment to bring about your reign of love, justice, and peace, and be a light of hope to those living in darkness, despair, and disillusionment. Take our hand, Lord, so we can see you in our daily lives. As we follow you, remove our fear and anxiety. Shine your light upon us and set our hearts on fire with your love. Lift us up to you, you who have emptied yourself for our sake, so that our lives may glorify you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christian Witness: Strong Collaboration
My name is Fr. Mina Dimitri. I am a priest of the Coptic Church whose historic name is the Church of Alexandria. The Pope of my Church resides in Egypt, where the largest population of Copts exists.
St. Mark, the evangelist, established the Church. Many well-known church fathers have come from this church including Origen, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, and St. Cyril. The Church was persecuted for much of its existence. It offered many martyrs throughout its history.
The monastic life, founded in Egypt by St. Anthony the Great, continues to be an instrumental part of the Coptic Church today.
The present leader of the Church is Pope Tawadros II who was elected in 2021. There are about 20 million Coptic Orthodox in Egypt. There are Coptic churches on all continents. In New Jersey and New York alone, we have over 55 churches. In the United States, we have about 13 bishops and hundreds of priests. This is a significant expansion. In the 1960s the Church only had two priests in North America.
The Coptic church in Egypt is everything for the Christian. It is where they play sports, serve, pray, share their concerns as well as vacation together. I used to spend at least 6 days a week in the church. Whenever I was bored, I would simply walk to the church. It is like a home to all of us. It is probably because Christians for the longest time felt that they couldn’t obtain access to the same facilities as their Muslim brothers and sisters, so the church became our home.
I was raised and have been a member of the Church all my life. It is hard to define a specific moment as a transformative point, but I must say meeting a couple of the “mystic fathers” in the deserts of Egypt was a significant light in my life. One of the desert fathers I met had the grace of reading my thoughts, which was overwhelming but wonderful.
In Egypt there is a lot of collaboration among the various Christian communities especially between the Catholic and Coptic churches. There is a strong collaboration among many of the churches since most of the dioceses have one bishop, and most bishops have monthly meetings for the clergy to discuss the issues and work together. But I also believe that the Church has a lot of work to do in this area.
Return to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Home Page