An input at the ecumenical meeting of bishops in the Focolare movement, Castel Gandolfo 23.9.2021

Sisters and Brothers, the Word of God is a word of unity. But more than just describing unity, it also creates unity. It is a word with inherent power capable of uniting people with God and with each other.

In a world that is divided in so many ways and into so many fractions by geographical, political, economic, and cultural borders, all human words of fellowship, brotherhood, compassion, or solidarity seem powerless. They don’t create unity, rather, they merely express the burning need for unity.

God’s word is different. It is a word of unity because there is unity in God.

The triune God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one. There is unity deep down in the very Being of God. What the Father does, the Son takes part in it. What the Son does, he does in the Holy Spirit. What the Spirit does, points through the Son to the Father.

When God expresses himself, be that in word or deed, in creation, in history, or in the words of prophets and apostles, the very essence of God’s revelation is always unity – the unity in God and together with God the Triune. This is most clearly made known to the humankind in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The Gospel according to St. John opens solemnly: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1, 1)

This eternal Word of God is more than just a word. It is Logos, the rational principle that makes all things logical. In ancient Greek philosophy, the Logos was the universal divine reason, immanent in nature, yet transcending all oppositions and imperfections in the cosmos and humanity. Logos was an eternal and unchanging truth present from the time of creation, available to every individual who seeks it. The Logos combines the deities with the material world, aligning human efforts with the purposes of gods.

In the Gospel of John, the Logos of God is the Son of God who became flesh and was born human. He is the eternal Word of God, spoken by the Father in the beginning, and sent to the world to be the loving message of God to all people. Listening to the Son we are drawn into unity with the Father. In the words of Jesus, we hear the eternal Word of God. Together with St. Peter we confess, Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6, 68)

When God speaks, we listen attentively and pray for the Spirit to move us into ever deeper faith, hope, and love. The closer we listen to God, the more united we will become as Christians. The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was first signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 1999, and subsequently adopted also by the World Methodist Council, the Anglican Communion, and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

This groundbreaking document overcomes a centuries old division between the Catholic Church and the Churches of Reformation. It only became possible after a joint, ecumenical study of Biblical foundations of the doctrine of justification. I quote: “Our common way of listening to the word of God in Scripture has led to such new insights.”

Dear friends, may we too listen to the word of God and may it lead us to new insights and to unity.