To all the brothers and sisters of the Oases – Realities of Koinonia John the Baptist
Christ is risen!
Dearest sister, dearest brother,
The beginning of the gospel of Luke speaks to us of the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist and, in particular, of his not so appealing message:You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” (Lk 3:7). Imagine if we, today’s John the Baptist, went around proclaiming this type of message in the climate of suffering and uncertainty that we have at present: even without Covid-19 we would be lynched and not without reason. We cannot compare today’s society with that of Israel in the first century, however, it is reasonable to assume that the contemporaries of John the Baptist did not appreciate being publicly reprimanded either. So what was the fundamental element that drove the crowds, not only to stay there and to listen to the reproaches, but even to ask the Baptist for instruction: “What should we do?” (Lk 3:10). The secret of the people’s willingness and docility can be found a few verses later: “The people were waiting” (Lk 3:15). It is precisely this ‘waiting’ that opens our hearts for change and characterizes the liturgical season of Advent, in which we are called to cultivate within us an ardent desire for His coming.
The prophetic character of our community, present from its birth, motivates us to hope and to go beyond the boundaries of the present time. It is the Lord Himself who, through His promises, is guiding us and is even determining the pace on this journey, because He wants us to depend on Him. Over the course of the last number of years however, we can feel a sense of discouragement in our society and in the Church. This has led to a lack of trust in the future, in institutions, and in stable commitments of friendship, such as marriage and consecration. This distrust affects us too: it is like a veil that impairs our vision and does not allow us to contemplate the“plans for good and not disaster, to give a future full of hope” (Jer 29:11) promised by the Lord. It leads us to look more at ourselves than at Him. Sometimes it seems to us that the divine promises are unattainable on this Earth and that we have to wait for them in Heaven. Even in our own community, seeing brothers and sisters who were bound to us with perpetual vows leave, only confirms the above, and has contributed in some way to fuelling this doubt and discouragement.
At this point, without disclaiming our responsibilities, and aware that the Lord is jealous and calls us to holiness, we need to take a leap of maturity and ask ourselves: “What can I do for the community? What does the Lord expect of me?”
I don’t think that I am mistaken in imagining the voice of Jesus replying: “Continue to trust in Me and in the brothers who are with you, do not lose heart, but keep your eyes fixed on Me and on my promises”.
Unconditional trust in the God of promises allows us to grow spiritually and to remain faithful to Him through the community, since we are increasingly aware that the ‘miracle’ of communion does not depend on us, on our skill, or on the gifts we have, but is a gift that comes from above. This gift dwells in the hearts of the humble, of those who recognize the beam in their own eye and not the splinter in the eye of their brother. It’s in the hearts of those who renounce the logic of accusation and intimidation and finally, it’s in those who recognize that the brother next to them, in his poverty, is a sacrament of Jesus, just like the Master taught us:“I was naked and you dressed me (…), in prison and you came to find me” (Mt 25,36)..
Dearest sister, dearest brother, it is true to say that today’s mentality is profoundly different from the time of John the Baptist. However, it is also true that man as a divine creature is called to an intimate relationship of sonship with the Father. He carries within himself attitudes that circumstances and dominant thinking can only amplify or placate, but not eliminate, and one of these attitudes is trust! Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of trust. Only trust can ignite hope and make ardent the desire for His coming. The One who has promised is faithful, so much so that He has already given us His only begotten Son as a gift. The fast approaching Christmas season challenges all forms of routine and causes the rational mind of man to surrender before the ‘trembling’ heart of the Father who always wants to reach us and tries to do so in creative ways.
Therefore, in this time of Waiting, I invite you to invest more time in prayer and to bring before the Lord the promises He made to you and to us as a community, in particular the one proclaimed during the seminar in July 2018 by our sister Ela Wróbel:
“Koinonia John the Baptist, I visited you for the first time when I formed you in my womb according to my vision, according to my plans. My second visit was during your expansion all over the world. Now await my third visit. You must be like a sentinel on your walls, you have to look beyond, because I will visit you, my visit will be sudden, unexpected”.
This is Ela’s comment: “We must protect what the Lord has already given us, because the enemy wants to divide us and make us weak. What will come will be truly great; His visit will be strong, different from the previous two and will fill us with joy”.
Certain that the Lord will not disappoint us, I send you my warmest greetings, wish you an expectant time of waiting and a joyful Christmas.
Tiberias, 26th November 2020
Fr. Giuseppe De Nardi