To all the brothers and sisters of the Oases – Realities of
Koinonia John the Baptist
Christ is Risen!
“But when he came to himself he said… I will get up and go to my father” (Lk 15:17-18)
The message of mercy resounds strongly during the Lent of this jubilee year. We can offer many definitions and many images to explain what it is, but for Koinonia what does the word “mercy” suggest to us?
The Parable of the Prodigal Son (cf. Lk 15:11-32) offers us with a response. Mercy is to return to the Father’s house to “stay with” the father and with the older brother. In other words, for us as Koinonia mercy is to live in communion.
To stay with the father is easy. The father doesn’t tell us off and he gives us back everything that we have lost. If anything, the difficulty of the prodigal son is that he no longer knows how to stay with the father as a son. Instead, he feels like a servant. The father in the parable doesn’t ask for penance, not even a trial period. He wants his son to learn to live again as he did at the beginning, without always carrying the memories of his sins and deficiencies with him. The prodigal son is the image of Adam, called to return to being naked and transparent, without the need to continuously hide himself. To stay with the father means to live my relationship with the Lord in gratitude and joy, and not sadness. It means to not continuously cry over my own poverty and failings. It means rejoicing because, no matter what I am, God is in communion with me.
To stay with the older brother, however, isn’t easy. The older brother doesn’t share the joy of the father, because he is reserved and nurtures judgement towards both the younger brother and the father. The younger brother doesn’t deserve to be welcomed back as a son, and the father isn’t acting in the way he should, in that he has spent part of the older brother’s inheritance to throw the feast for the brother who has returned. The older brother is also the image of Adam who, urged on by the devil, saw God and Eve as rivals who threatened his freedom and joy. The image of the older son teaches us to know how to share and to not be afraid of others who “rob” what belongs to us. To live with the brother or sister means to not be afraid of the other person, because we lose nothing when we love.
The return to the house of the Father is a path of reconciliation and healing where both sons are healed from the sense of guilt and antagonism. It is here that Adam finds his lost innocence again. Here, in this house, communion marked by mercy returns.
Of course, the classic question arises: what do I have to do?
• Do everything so that the other person is comfortable and enjoys being with you.
• Do everything so that the other person says “thank you” to you.
• Do everything so that the other person becomes your friend.
Personally, allow me to practically suggest that you adopt the attitude of meekness. Meekness is kindness, gentleness, and goodness towards the brother and sister. It is the capacity to react not on the basis of what you feel, but on the basis of what the brother or sister needs. If the older brother hadn’t become gentle, the younger brother would have left the father’s house again. If the younger brother had not become gentle, he would have been the thorn in the side of the older brother. Meekness is what enables me to stay in the house of the Father with my brother or sister and experience together how good the Lord is.
Church tradition is rich with precepts and suggestions for observing Lent and each person can choose what is best for them. Don’t be miserly in your choice, but don’t forget to be meek so that the house of the Koinonia can be the House of the Father where everyone can live the gift of his mercy.
So, the principal commitment of this Lent is meekness.
Fr. Alvaro Grammatica