Homily / Vespers with our Orthodox brothers and sisters

Notre Dame Cathedral
January 21 2007

My gratitude goes out to you my Orthodox brothers and sisters and to you my brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith. Orthodox is a word that expresses the authenticity of the faith you hold, Catholic, universal, says that we are called to spread the Good News throughout the world to all peoples and throughout all time. But this catholic message has to be Orthodox, genuine and authentic.

Catholique et orthodoxe, voilà deux mots extraordinaires qui parlent de deux aspects dune même réalité lÉvangile de Jésus-Christ, notre Sauveur.

Our late Holy Father John Paul II stated that ecumenism is not optional, it is a basic constituent of the Church and Pope Benedict has repeated his concern in both words and deeds.

Your own Patriarchs have met with our Holy Fathers on numerous occasions have spoken with the same insistence on the need for us to be united as Christ, our Lord asked us to be. Our present Holy Father, both in his very first words addressed at the opening of his ministry and in his going out to our sister churches of the orthodox tradition, makes clear his openness and his love for all of you.

Notre pape actuel, a énoncé clairement son ouverture envers vous tous et son amour à votre égard, autant par les premières paroles énoncées en début de son ministère que par ses rencontres avec nos Églises sSurs de tradition orthodoxe.

From both our leaders and your leaders we are asked to aim not at the lowest common denominator, no, but we are asked to aim at the highest common denominator Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Our common understanding of Christ is that he is Son of God, Son of Mary, the Pantocrator. This is our highest common denominator, and here we stand united. Others, even some claiming to be Christians, deny one or other aspect of our belief in Christ, but in this we are one. This is what makes our common message of Christ orthodox and makes it catholic, worthy to be proclaimed universally. That we can together say in all truth, Jesus Christ is Lord provides the solid foundation for our unity.

Saint Paul in the Letter to the Philippians urges us to be united to one another and the path he takes is the path for us today it is a path of humility.

Voilà ce qui rend orthodoxe le message du Christ, notre message commun, et ce qui le rend catholique, cest-à-dire digne dêtre proclamé universellement. Notre affirmation commune Christ est Seigneur, nous donne des assises solides pour notre unité.

Saint Paul, dans sa lettre aux Philippiens, nous encourage à demeurer unis les uns aux autres et il choisit une voie qui devrait être la nôtre aujourdhui celle de lhumilité.

Saint Paul speaks of the foundation for unity among us that is humility:

If then there is any comfort in Christ, any help given by love, any uniting of hearts in the Spirit, any loving mercies and pity, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in harmony and of one mind; doing nothing through envy or through pride, but with low thoughts of self let everyone take others to be better than himself; not looking everyone to his private good, but keeping in mind the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. .

If ecumenism is an exchange of gifts, then we need to look to what is good and true and beautiful in each other, not using ourselves as the measure of truth, beauty or goodness. Christ Jesus himself is our measure of all that is good. And we learn from him what is real humility.

Si lScuménisme réside dans un échange de dons, nous devons rechercher ce quil y a de bon, de vrai et de beau en chacun; sans voir en nous-mêmes le barème de toute vérité, beauté ou bonté. Cest le Christ Jésus lui-même qui est la seule mesure de tout ce qui est bon et cest de lui que nous apprenons la véritable humilité.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should in heaven and on earth and under the earth, bend, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Each of us considers this a truth to live by and to die for. We are united here.

In conclusion, let us make ours the prayer of Paul: Finally, brothers and sister, let our minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that we love and admire, with whatever is good and praiseworthy. In this way we will look on each other with the same kindness and generosity as we look upon ourselves, seeing what is true and noble and then we will be just that much closer to being completely united in love.

Ainsi, nous jetterons sur les autres le même regard de bonté et de générosité que nous avons pour nous-mêmes, voyant alors ce qui est vrai et noble; et, nous serons donc encore plus près dêtre pleinement unis dans un même amour.

It is fitting that we gather in this church dedicated to Our Lady as both our traditions hold the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, in such high esteem and make her Magnificat a part of our daily prayer. This reverence for Mary is another of the many things that bind us together as we continue on our journey of faith.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of us now and forever. Amen.