To all the brothers and sisters of the Oases – Realities of
Koinonia John the Baptist
Christ is risen!
Dear brothers and sisters,
We live in a time full of vitality; a time that I consider beautiful and exciting. We, as Koinonia, don’t take any part in negative, anguished visions, instead we have a serene expectation of the coming of the Lord. Certainly things aren’t easy, problems don’t have simple solutions and evil spreads rapidly, but the sun is always present despite the fleeting clouds. Yes, clouds are always fleeting!
Here is the distinctive mark of this Lent: the Lord is always present.
We are waiting. This, in fact, is the true work of a disciple: to await the return of the Lord, and in the meantime announce that his salvation is free and for everyone. The Acts of the Apostles does nothing else but emphasise this truth, converting us to a time of waiting which is full of hope. This is the conversion that the Gospel itself asks of us when Jesus begins his ministry: “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near; convert and believe the Gospel” (Mk 1:15).
The time was fulfilled, but not for everyone. The time wasn’t fulfilled for those who didn’t want to recognise Jesus, who didn’t welcome the closeness of God; instead the time was fulfilled for those who welcomed the gift that God gave them in sending the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. It was a blessed time, but it wasn’t so for everyone.
It is a little like today: the time we are living in is beautiful, but it is not beautiful for those who don’t want to welcome the coming of God who is full of mercy, who goes beyond the Sabbath law in order to satisfy a hungry people (see Mk 2:23-28). We need a true conversion, one that makes us open our eyes and makes us see that the Sun of Justice has not disappeared, but has drawn close to give warmth and blessing to those who are wounded and in need of being welcomed.
It is prayer that makes us open our eyes; prayer is the true ointment that helps us recover our sight. This is the key to overcoming blindness. Do not abandon prayer, but once again raise your hands to Heaven, every day and in every situation, to thank the Lord and to invoke his help. Raise up your hands and you will receive the true blessing that we need, of discovering that God is near because the time is fulfilled.
Prayer, accompanied by fasting and almsgiving, will help us to be people who announce hope and not those who broadcast sad news. The world needs people who announce joy; people who open eyes and awaken dormant hearts, paralysed by trials and fear. We need to see that God is near, a God who is merciful, a God who saves. We ourselves need to see that today is a blessed time, much more blessed than yesterday, and a foreshadowing of the fullness that will come to visit us from above.
The time is blessed and fulfilled, if you decide to convert. Pray so that your eyes may recover the correct vision, of seeing that the kingdom of God is close to you.
For Lent this year, let us: pray for the time to be fulfilled, pray so that my eyes can see the gift of God beside me, pray so that I may know how to discover the signs of His presence in my everyday life, pray to point out that above us the sun still shines.
Let us pray alone, together and in all circumstances, as Paul reminds us: “Be at peace among yourselves… give courage to those who are discouraged, support those who are weak and be patient with everyone. Take care that no one tries to to repay evil for evil, but always aim for what is best for each other and for everyone. Always be joyful, pray constantly, and for all things give thanks: this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Spirit or despise the gift of prophecy with contempt. Test everything and hold on to what is good” (1 Ts 5:13).
Plzeň-Valcha, 7th February 2018
Fr. Alvaro Grammatica