To all the brothers and sisters of the Oases – Realities of
Koinonia John the Baptist
Christ is risen!
Dearest sisters and dearest brothers,
A year has passed since the beginning of the pandemic and the restrictions that almost all of us are still living with. Many things have changed in our way of life and above all in our way of relating to each other: characterised by a warm welcome, expressed through kisses, hugs and handshakes. However long this time may be it will come to an end, and sooner or later, slowly but surely (but without a doubt) we will return to what we call ‘normality’. Let us not resign ourselves to keeping our distance nor be misled by the deception that we must change our way of life, but as soon as the circumstances permit, let us be ready to resume our typically “koinonic” way of life.
Therefore let us enter into this ‘Lenten opportunity’ which will prepare us for the feast of Easter, by ridding ourselves of fears, bitterness, barriers, judgments and everything that hints of mistrust; with the firm will to resurrect and revive our relationships, especially with Jesus, who is the Lord of life.
This relationship with Jesus is traditionally called ‘prayer’, and John the Baptist is not only a fine example of a man of prayer, but also of a teacher, so much so that he was the cause of the emulation in the hearts of Jesus’ own disciples: “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples” (Lk 11:1).
Although extensively treated, it is not superfluous to repeat this subject. In the spiritual life it is fundamental to reach the ‘habitus’ of prayer. This is an acquired and consolidated habit which, when reached, we feel a sacrosanct discomfort if during the course of the day we have not spent the appointed time with Jesus. Regarding this goal, we are all aware that the dangers are many and that the devil does everything to distract us from the Beloved.
Even today Jesus renews his friendship with us by telling us: “I no longer call you servants, but friends” (Jn 15:15). It is the verb “to do” that characterises the servant, while the friend is called to “be”. If then, in this being there is something to do, this doing is to love, and prayer is the highest expression of love because it is “staying with a Friend”.
Whether we like it or not, the future of the Koinonia depends on the faithfulness of each and every one of us and our fidelity depends on our prayer!
The Baptist is also a koinonic figure, because he not only lives in community but preaches to everyone the founding principle of life in common, which is sharing: “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise” (Lk 3:11).
This verse contains the DNA, the genetic imprint of every koinonic life. The Church described in the Acts of the Apostles is not the archeology of Jerusalem, but an icon, an exemplary image with which the Christian community in the course of history is called to measure itself. In it, what shines through is a willingness to share, prompted by the Holy Spirit who reigns in the hearts of believers. He is the One who moves them to build relationships in which no one lacks anything and everyone has what they need. The economic crisis caused or aggravated by the pandemic, is affecting many of our families and will continue to do so even after we have emerged from this health crisis and so it urges us to be in solidarity among brothers and among communities. We are in fact a large family, located in all five continents and in countries, some of which have fewer economic resources than others, but this does not prevent us from sharing other types of riches, which may be scarce in affluent countries. I am sure that this Lent everyone, as individuals, couples or communities, will have the opportunity to perform ‘exercises in solidarity’, whether small or great: what is important is that they are carried out with freedom, joy and charity.
Dearest sisters and brothers, united with our Founder Fr. Ricardo, for these forty days I ask you to pray intensely, to share concretely, and to abstain from any type of alcoholic drink, in imitation of the Baptist: “He will drink neither wine nor strong drink, He will be filled with the holy Spirit” (Lk 1:15).
Lent is a favourable time to renew our friendship with the Lord and with the community, and to allow ourselves to be moulded and united as ‘tesserae’ called to form the great mosaic of the Koinonia John the Baptist.
May the Lord bless us and grant us joy, typical of the Resurrection.
Tiberias, 16th February 2021
Fr. Giuseppe De Nardi