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08.12.2017 15:56:47 1123x read.
INSPIRATION
Deepening Our Community Life by Way of Witnessing to God's Mercy.

Deepening Our Community Life by Way of Witnessing to God’s Mercy.


One of our lives as religious is to live in community, which in itself expresses the mercy of God. To deepen this community as a witness to God’s mercy, we need to live out certain outstanding value that will help us to realize our call as religious. We need to live in community just like the early Christians. “The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that any of their belongings were their own, but they all shared with one another everything they had. With great power of apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God poured rich blessing on them all there was no one in the group who was in need. Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, bring the money received from the sale and hand it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed to each one according to his needs.” (Acts 4:32-36) In those days being one in spirit and heart was not only a question of praying together. They assisted one another materially. We might be struck by the radicalism of their approach. Can we practice the same thing? How many of us are ready and willing to use ourselves for the good of the community? How many of us present the right salary we earn to the bursar? Some of us have even developed a habit of spending part of the money and give the statement and the left over to the house? These are just but a few. Just think and reflect seriously about them. How responsible are we to one another?

Wondering about the way they organized themselves, we might overlooked the point Luke is making. His point is not so much how they organized their communal welfare, but the fact that they fell socially responsible for one another. In this reason they set a model for all communities to come. Luke describes that there are difference mutual assistance. He said in one instance that they share all they owned in common. In another case they sold everything they have and then distributed the proceeds according to their needs. There was no individualism, sectionalism and tribalism. They recognized their unity in diversity. This is clearly and boldly stated in article 43 of our Constitutions.

When the risen Jesus appears to the apostles, he meets them as a community. When Thomas happens to be absent, he has to wait until the next time Jesus appears to their community. The new risen life brings believers together. Christians have always known and felt this. As brothers we form small communities to come together to pray, to reflect on the gospels and try to make our risen life in the spirit a more concrete realities in our lives. We tell each other our experience, our spiritual stories; we assist one another in our outreach to those who need them. We are united heart and head in Jesus Christ just as described in acts. This can equally be found in our Constitutions articles 35,36, and 37.

 

  1. Of one heart and soul
"This is my commandment, that you love one another." 8)
Together, as brothers, we try to fulfil this mission of Christ. His Good News of the coming of the Kingdom "of righteousness and peace and joy" 1) we make our own message. Therefore, motivated by his Spirit we, just as the first Christians, desire to be "of one heart and soul" 9): we are community, and endeavour to build up community outside our own circle. Knowing we are called to unity and fraternal solidarity, we proclaim Christ to one another and to all people. 

  2. Brothers of one another
We are directed towards the happiness of our fellow-beings; firstly towards the happiness of those with whom we form a community. We call one another brother and try to live up to this word in our community life. 

  3. Forming a community
Forming a community means: to be near one another in joy and in sorrow; to be willing to understand one another; to appreciate, encourage, and inspire one another; to be ready to forgive one another again and again; "seek to do good to one another and to all" 10) 

“Be merciful just as your father is merciful.” (Lk 6:36) We need to be merciful to one another in our communities and wherever we found ourselves. Compassion shown to people who do not deserve our pardon or kindness is mercy. According to Pope Francis, in the case of God and the people of God, mercy is not an act of surprise as such because God is mercy itself. God takes delight in being merciful. The people of God for that matter, Christians or religious brothers are also to be merciful as our heavenly father. Many people look up to us in times of challenges. People expect us to act on behalf of the Church, just as they trust in the divine providence. Many have come to learn that we live lovingly in mercy.

 

We need to live a life that is worth living. What is life if it is full of worries, cries, wars, conflicts, hunger, threats, fear, doubts, sickness poverty, ignorance and what have you? Nothing can be done to do away with these things in our communities. They are to be managed, controlled and addressed by those who care. As Christians, we need to show mercy and compassion to bring hope, smiles and happiness unto those who are oppressed, depressed and abandoned. Life becomes worth living in mercy and love, especially in our communities. We are to live to the full in the name of Jesus. We cannot grow or develop if God and others we live with show no mercy to us. We are to live mercy for peaceful co-existence. No abuse should be in our communities. We should be each other’s keeper. We should care and love. We should be responsible to one another. We should not be indifference or live individualistic lives. Mercy makes the difference. Mercy is our salvation. Some people view mercy as a weakness. That is not and that is why Pope Francis said, “the one who shows mercy and the one to whom mercy is shown become equal.” None of them is greater than the other, but only for the sake of God’s mercy.

 The psalmist says, “God mercy endures forever.” (Ps 136) God is always ready to receive us whenever we stray away from him due to our sins. He is like the merciful father who welcomed back the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-35). The father was happy to see the son back, hence, he celebrated it. Out of his mercy, he forgives our sins, he provides our needs and he brings us consolation in times of challenges. He provides us with opportunities to renew our lives and to excel in whatever we do. In our communities can we give a second chance to a brother to renew himself? Can we truly forgive and reconciled with one another in our various communities when there is misunderstanding between us? Sometimes it may be very difficult but we have to try and do it with faith and by the help of God. That is part of our call to witness to God’s mercy.

It does not mean that everything the father did for the son was as easy as we heard, but out of love he was able to do it. The son was also a contributing factor because he cooperated with the father, he never asked for anything to leave the house again. This means that we should not think that the concentration of the community should be one sided or on one brother, because each an every brother in the community has a responsibility of deepening our community life. Out of mercy God has given each one of us talents for which we can perform credibility to the deepening of our community life and to the amazement of all around us. We only have to develop these talents and use them. God has given us all that we need to be merciful, kind and generous. The choice is left to us. We are free to accept or to reject them. If we are selfish to use these to deepen our communities, then we will find community life a burden to us. It will mean that we cannot witness God’s mercy to one another, in our apostolate areas and wherever we found ourselves. There will be no God’s merciful love in our call to be Christians and not even talk of being religious.

 We need to show mercy to one another in loving actions, since action speaks louder than words. Mercy is the overflow of love. God is love, but this love is seen in its plenty when it is given to those who do not deserve them because of their weakness. God gazes us with his love and call us to act in his name. Jesus gazes Zacchaeus and Mathew this gaze and they never the same. We have to gaze with the same mercy of love in our communities. Those who we may think or take as Zacchaeus’ and Mathews, let us gaze them with the eyes of Jesus and their lives will never be the same knowing that we are all weak in one way or another. Let us be aware that punishment does not bring a change in peoples live instead, merciful love. Remember that God gives us more than we need out of love.

If we are to deepen our community life by way of witnessing to God’s mercy, it should be seen in our speech, in our use of time, resources talents, gifts skills and management of situations. We need to be enthusiastic, happy and joyful in showing mercy. We are to look around in order to identify the needy even in our communities and advocate for justice to prevail. We are to take the initiative and the responsibility to bring the needed change for better things to happen. We need to do the ordinary things to make them extra-ordinary. Our mere greetings can be extra-ordianary depending on our choice of words, expressions and gestures, with our facial expression, we make the difference. We have to take note that everybody wants to feel needed, respected and love. When these are missing, then the community will experience the life wickedness instead of witness, misery instead of mercy, jealousy instead of joy, confusion instead of communion, fear instead of fairness and above all lack of trust instead of love and trust.

 

To deepen our community life by way of witnessing to God’s mercy, each of us must take up his cross and follow Jesus who is our savior and leader. We must be committed to our call as religious to live in communities. We must try our best to carry out our community responsibilities. We should not allow money, use of cars and other material things to blind and prevent us from witnessing to God’s mercy.

 

By: Bro. Joseph Zoyah (Ghana Province)








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