To all the brothers and sisters of the Oases – Realities of
Koinonia John the Baptist
Christ is risen!
Dear sister, dear brother,
According to what we are hearing from the media, after two years there are positive signs inspiring us to hope for an end to the pandemic. You don’t need to be a prophet to realise that this Paschal season should give us the grace to return to our social life and to our customary Koinonia gatherings.
In order to consciously live the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, it is good for us to enter the Lenten season with the right spirit and right motivation. A passage from the first Book of Kings can help enlighten us in this. In chapter 11, verse 6 it is written, “So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done”. It is an intriguing verse. Clearly, Solomon is judged negatively for how he lived and what he had done, while David is presented as a model, because he ‘completely followed the Lord’. We now know that David lived a life of combat, while Solomon’s reign was characterised by peace and prosperity that signalled an apex in the history of the Jewish people. So much so that it is presented as an image of the Messianic reign that was to come. David was an assassin, not so much because of the many deaths in war, but because, after having sinned with Bathsheba, he made plans for the murder of Uriah, her husband, at the hands of the Ammonites. Solomon allowed himself to be corrupted and led astray by foreign women. At first glance, his modus operandi is characterised by sins of weakness and of human passion. However, the more serious characteristic of Solomon’s reign is the consequence of these sins: idolatry. In fact, the only time Solomon seeks the Lord is in response to a dream at Gibeon. The Lord revealed Himself to him with the invitation, “ask what I should give you” (1 Kings 3:5), and he answered in the best way possible. No other textual evidence exists of Solomon seeking the Lord, much less of any act of repentance.
The difference between the two kings, therefore, is not the quantity of sins or how serious we perceive their sins to be, but their will to search for the Lord and their desire to spend time in His presence, despite everything. In other words, in the eyes of the Lord it is of course important to live a virtuous life, but just as “we sin because we are sinners”, the authentic virtuous attidude is the one that brings us back in to communion with Him: recognising our sin in the light of the Holy Spirit, and repenting as a consequence! In this verse David highlights this difference: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my iniquity” (Ps 51:1).
Dear friends, in the same way let us fully enter into this blessed season with the desire to renew our relationship with the Lord Jesus and with each other, conscious that we certainly are not better than our fathers. We ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and bless us in these days, bringing to light anything in our heart that breaks communion, or tends to distance us from the Lord or from our brothers and sisters. Above all, let us examine and analyse the way we speak, because “someone who does not trip up in speech has reached perfection and is able to keep the whole body on a tight rein” (Jam 3:2). With our language we can edify the Koinonia, but our language can also destroy it: gossip and rash judgements strongly damage community.
Therefore, together with our Founder, I invite you, in addition to all community and personal initiatves, to make this Lenten commitment: to endeavour not to speak ill of any brother or sister, and not to listen to anyone who speaks ill of others. For this intention we ask that every member of the Koinonia fast on Good Friday, 15th April, and participate in the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. This provides a moment of repentance with prostration, during which we will ask forgiveness from the Lord for every sin of language and speech, and commit ourselves to edifing the Koinonia together.
I take this opportunity to wish you a fruitful Lenten journey and a joyful Paschal celebration of the Lord’s resurrection.
Even Sapir, 26th February 2022
Fr. Giuseppe De Nardi