Tony Worner, Leader of Formation at St Agnes’ Catholic reads from the Gospel of Luke (17: 26-37) in which Jesus says ‘Anyone who tries to preserve their life will lose it, and anyone who loses it will keep it safe’. Today, we celebrate Memorial of St Josaphat, bishop and martyr.
In 1054, Tony notes that a formal split called ‘a schism’ took place between the Eastern Church, centred in Constantinople, and the Western Church, centred in Rome. Trouble between the two had been brewing for centuries. Tony says, it would take some time to unpack why this happened, but we continue to experience some of this division today. More than five centuries later, in 1580 Josaphat Kunsevich was born. From the time he entered a monastery in 1604 he worked for the reform and unity for the Eastern Church with the West. He was able to continue with his plans when he became the first Bishop of Vitebsk.
However, many didn’t agree or want to be involved with bringing about unity. Then knowing the end was near, he was killed along with many of his friends, by an angry unforgiving mob in 1623. Josaphat was a voice of Christian peace in trying to bring about unity. In 1867 he became the first person of the Eastern Church to be formally canonised by Rome, the Western Church. In remembering St Josaphat and his voice towards unity, Tony acknowledges that the Parish value we have focussed on in 2021 is ‘United as One Body’ and so invites us to pray … God, Giver of all gifts, inspire in us the grace to use our skills and gifts for the good of all. Increase in us an awareness to create a sense of welcome, belonging, safety and interdependence to all with whom we meet and work.
Help us to live in a spirit of inclusiveness, accepting each other’s differences, so that we may achieve much for the common good and continue to build up the ‘one body’ of Christ. Amen.