To all the brothers and sisters
of the Oases - Realities of
Koinonia John the Baptist
Christ is Risen!
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”
What does the Lord ask of us this Lent?
This year, with the Lenten letter of Pope Francis, the Church invites us to strengthen our hearts (cf. Jas 5:8) and to strip ourselves of attitudes of indifference in order to live with compas- sion. To live with compassion is to see that our life is fulfilled through the lives of others, receiving sap from them. We are one body and we depend on the health of the body. A healthy body is a united body where the members are not only linked to each other but care for each other. It is one that seeks out the brother or sister, praying for them and serving them in their needs. It requires a considerate heart that knows how to dedicate time to intercession, and is attentive to extending a hand to those who are alongside.
And the Church is nothing other than an echo of the Gospel. The newness of the Gospel is unique: God calls us friends and treats us as friends. It’s for this reason that Jesus gave his life and teaches us to do the same. The root of all this is what John writes about in his first letter: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10).
God’s initiative opens us to a response. He gives His love and we respond by placing our- selves in his hands. It is the dynamic of the kerygma. Jesus did the same thing. He chose his own, transformed them into friends, and gave himself for them. The image of the washing of the feet at the Last Supper (see Jn 13: 1-20) expresses what Jesus has done for us very well: living for others.
In the same way, we also must strip in order to dress ourselves as the one who serves. And it is service which is always free and joyful, unending and creative, humble and full of compassion and mercy. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be service but a search for merit and recompense in order to satisfy our ambition.
So then, the walk of this Lent is clearly laid out in front of us. What the Lord is asking for is prayer and service. Let’s dedicate more time to prayer, renewing our faithfulness to personal prayer both in the time we give to it and in doing it in the ways used by our community. Let’s make our- selves available to making concrete gestures of service and charity for those who are in need and who we usually overlook because it is a bit cumbersome for us. This is the time to draw close to the Lord again in order to rediscover him as friend, and to our brothers and sisters so that a friendship of mercy and trust is renewed and strengthened. With this prayer and service in mind, the classic acts of penance then make sense: to strengthen our hearts to love more.
May the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, most-Virgin and our patron saints permit that “having purified our souls by our obedience to the truth so that we have genuine mutual love, let’s love one another deeply from the heart. We have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. For ‘all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures for ever.’ That word is the good news that was announced to us” (cf. 1 Pt 1:22-25).
Plzeň-Valcha, 16th February 2015
Fr. Alvaro Grammatica