To all the brothers and sisters of the Oases – Realities of
Koinonia John the Baptist
Christ is risen!
While I write this letter for this forthcoming Advent, I find myself a pilgrim in Israel. I have just concluded a visit to Nazareth. Tomorrow visits to the Mount of the Beatitudes and Capernaum await me as I continue on my journey. As a result, my thoughts surround this spiritual latitude and I can be nothing other than deeply influenced by it.
Here everything speaks of proclamation and welcome. It almost seems like these places echo of the jubilee year of mercy announced by Pope Francis. Everything is energised by mercy, presence and anticipation – a Gospel message that becomes universal, capable of responding to every need of the human heart.
Three reflections impress themselves on my conscience, and they correspond perfectly with the walk of the Koinonia for this Advent.
The gift of God surpasses our poverty.
The first idea is that the gift of God surpasses our poverty. In Nazareth Mary was wrapped by a gift that overcomes her and makes her capable to welcome. At Capernaum, the house of Peter be- came the place where the profound hope of every person to be restored, and to become depositories of gratuitous love once again, is made concrete. The coming of Jesus wins the victory over solitude and joy begins to germinate. This is told in different words in the miracle of Cana: the simple water of purification becomes messianic wine that brings joy.
Acceptance of ourselves just as we, so that we experience true sonship.
The second is the coexistence of poverty and blessing in the circumstances of our lives. A person who is totally lost doesn’t exist, but neither does someone who is totally holy. What exists is a mixture: of enriched poverty, of strengthened weakness, of distance which becomes a walk of drawing close again. Were the apostles not weak and poor? And despite remaining this way they had the experience of being loved as if they were the best people on earth. This is key to a peace- filled and truly evangelical life. It is only in the measure to which we accept being sinners who are forgiven that we will be able to say that Jesus is the true Emmanuel, God with us.
Respond with faith and generosity to divine invitations.
Lastly, every biblical personality was called to respond with faith and generosity to divine invitations. Mary responded to the angel, and Peter responded to the suggestions of Jesus on the boat. What were their assurances? None, other than a simple trust in the word received. Mary ac- cepted it, as did Peter, and they became instruments of salvation for all of us. Mary didn’t know the angel but she trusted it. Similarly, Peter didn’t know the famous Rabbi from Nazareth yet, but he trusted the words that he heard, defying every resistance within him, even if this was well founded. Docility must always have precedence in all discernment.
Out of these three reflections three simple commitments arise – joy, acceptance and docility: joy, so the gift of God surpasses us; acceptance of ourselves just as we, so that we experience true sonship; docility to our brother and sister in order to overcome every filter of distrust.
Let’s commit ourselves to be joyful so as not to give space to discouragement and sadness, which want to convince us that the gift of God doesn’t belong to us and that at least for us nothing ever changes.
Let’s commit to loving and accepting ourselves with gratitude and respect, so that we over- come all bitterness, that doesn’t allow us to live as children. We are not called to live under the yoke of accusation which denies our adoption as children of God.
Let’s commit ourselves to fraternal docility and by doing so we will win the victory over fear of the other, or those who are different from us. This fear is nothing other than an escape from mercy which calls us to communion.
So, choose to smile, being deliberately joyful. Choose not to mistreat or accuse yourself. Instead, abound in thankfulness for who you are and what you do. Choose to go to meet your brother and sister in order to become their Good Samaritan.
Do everything with joy, love and docility.
Other things, such as prayer, penance, fasting and other acts of piety, always remain valid. However, do everything with joy, love and docility. Otherwise we will be like a cymbal clashing but lacking in strength, a voice that doesn’t know how to cry out, a proclamation that doesn’t reach to the heart.
The charism of Koinonia John the Baptist requires this commitment from us.
Have a blessed Advent.
Plzeň-Valcha, 22nd November 2015
Fr. Alvaro Grammatica