Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 5: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity / St. Vincent of Saragossa (d. 304)

God of Hope, we praise you for your gift to us of the Lord's Supper, where, in the Spirit, we continue to meet your Son, the living bread from heaven. We pray that you will hasten the day when your whole church together shares the breaking of the bread. As we wait for that day may we learn more deeply to be a people formed by the Eucharist for service to the world. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

What better way to be at one with one another than to share a meal, to bread break together. That is our renewed pledge today as we near the conclusion of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In some sense we, as Jesus, become seed for making into the bread of our lives to be shared with one another. He told us that a seed needs first to fall into the ground and die, else it remains alone. Also, bread, if it's to give nourishment and strength, needs first to be chewed up and broken down, and consumed. In the One who modelled this for us, we become, as it were, bread for the world.

St. Vincent, deacon and martyr, who died in the same year as Agnes of Rome, entered into this process of being broken down in a very real and graphic way. As the eloquent spokesman of his bishop, Valerian, who had a speech impediment, Vincent boldly and truthfully gave witness to his faith in Jesus before the Roman officials. The price he paid was in being beaten, flayed, boiled, and stretched on a rack before he finally died. Never were Tertullian's words more true: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians."

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