When I was still in south Sudan, the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus (AM) by Pope Benedict XVI was released. The focus was to ask the whole Church of Africa to be at service of reconciliation, justice and peace. The looming scenario of the world today makes this call given to the church of Africa even more an urgent call for the rest of the world.
The world divided by ideology promoted often through the religious institutions, a return from multicultural, cosmopolitan society to the safe havens of familiarity based on same language, race and religion are real challenges seen in our society today. As never before, what divides us is once again being promoted as to what unites us.
“Reconciliation is a pre-political concept and a pre-political reality, and for this very reason it is of the greatest importance for the task of politics itself. Unless the power of reconciliation is created in people’s hearts, political commitment to peace lacks its inner premise”, wrote Pope Benedict.
We use the lens of sociology to read the signs of the times and the lens psychology to read the present situation of persons. In doing this, we get a better understanding of the society and people. Often issues of injustices are brought to light and we work towards restoring justice to those who are affected. Sometimes the temptation is to remain at this level. Using such lenses of Sociology and Psychology do assist us but if we fail to use the Lens of Faith that would move us beyond to be of service to the primary call we have received as missionaries of reconciliation, we will fail in participating in the mission of Jesus in restoring all back into a new relationship with God and with one another. Pope Francis is demanding this through his homilies, gestures of true Christian charity.
Synod on Africa recalled the pressing duty of each disciple to understand Christ who calls us by his word. We Claretians, as servants of the Word, learn to listen to Christ and to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, who reveals to us the meaning of all things (Jn 16:13) from the first days of our formation. In fact, the reading and meditation of the word of God, as instructed by our founder Claret, root us more deeply in Christ and guide our ministry as servants of reconciliation, justice and peace. We are reminded that, “to become his brothers and his sisters, one must be like ‘those who hear the word of God and put it into practice’ (Lk 8:21).
Authentic hearing is obeying and acting. It means making justice and love blossom in life.” It is offering, in life and in society, a witness like the call of the prophets, which continuously united the word of God and life, faith and rectitude, worship and social commitment”(AM). Listening to and meditating upon the word of God means letting it penetrate and shape our lives so as to reconcile us with God, allowing God to lead us towards reconciliation with our neighbor: a necessary path for building a community of individuals and peoples.
We take this ministry of reconciliation as a path of our spirituality, daily allowing the Spirit to transform our little fragments through the Word, into missionaries of reconciliation, first and foremost learning with humility to use the lens of faith that enables us to participate in the great vision of God, where God reveals that “we will be all God’s people and Yahweh will be our God. (Ex 6:7)”. On our faces and in our lives, in our ministries and involvement on issues of social justice, may the word of God truly take flesh!
Fr. Callistus Joseph
Provincial of Deutschland