Sunday, April 30, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 30

We choose the Solemnity of the Holy Cross, September 14, as the major feast of the Region (Congo Regional Statutes, 1.1).

There are various accents that the spirituality of the Cross can have.  That need not distort the whole truth of the mystery, which necessarily includes the elements of both suffering and deliverance.  Whatever the accent of a particular era, the golden thread throughout remains the affirmation of salvation in Christ.  It is possible to center on the sorrowful dimension of the Cross to evoke an appreciation of the depth of the love of God in Christ or to inspire a more sensitive compassion for the suffering of the Body of Christ today.  These are honorable perspectives.  But the preferred point of view of the Crosiers is other.  We put the accent on the victory of the Cross.  We see the Crucified Lord as the one already risen in his glory.  We are moved by the hope that the Cross gives to our world.  There is no doubt that the Crosier expressions of the spirituality of the Cross down through the centuries were nuanced.  The perspective of Theodore and his companions or of the confreres in the Middle Ages or of the Crosiers of the last century corresponded with their times.  And the confreres of the future will certainly choose an accent appropriate to their times.  But the Crosier of whatever era will never be satisfied with a preaching of the Cross that does not proclaim its glorious dimenson.  « O death, where is your sting ? (1Co. 15 :55).

Without a pole to support the house, it will collapse.  (Bakongo)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 29

Glorious Cross  April 29

Go in the peace of Christ, alleluia, alleluia (Dismissal, Easter Sunday).

The drama of salvation had delayed a long time from the moment of the encounter between Adam and the serpent.  For centuries and centuries, the dialogue between God and humanity happened in moments of advance and relapse.  The actors were both faithful and unfaithful men and women, charismatic saints and sinners, kings and peasants.  The events experienced included slaveries and liberations, covenants and rebellions, heroism and cowardice, reward and punishment.  The old man in the Temple, aware of all this history, eagerly awaited the Messiah.  One day, moved by the Spirit, he had the greatest encounter of his life.  Here was the infant in his arms!  He sang out his peace.  For Simeon, the salvation drama had arrived at its peak and he sensed already the harmony in the universe, in society, in the heart—the fruit of salvation.  Where once there were cosmic disturbances, there was now heavenly peace.  Where once there was a world abandoned to human malice, there was now fraternal love.  Where once there was the sinner’s alienation from God, there was now restoration in grace.  Finally Simeon saw the messianic peace in the infant he held.  The old man symbolizes the human heart in the peace of the Spirit.  “Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace. . . . For my eyes have seen your salvation”  (Lk. 2:29-30).  What comes from Christ Risen are profound personal tranquility and ever-present social harmony.

If the chief goes with you, you will govern in peace.  (Lega)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 28

Glorious Cross  April 28

. . . let them rather lift up their hearts and not seek after what is vain and earthly (Rule 7).

Only someone who knows the Risen Christ can take the vow of evangelical poverty.  It is not possible to disregard all concern for personal security in the world without the assurance that there is someone looking out for you.  Apart from the desire for a life of ease, a person has to pursue the earthly necessities that assure survival, like food and drink, clothing and shelter.  To leave behind every personal consideration in favor of meeting the needs of others does not make sense without the confidence that somewhere one has a great benefactor.  Encounter with the Risen Jesus brings such confidence.  One recognizes him as the bearer of ultimate security in this passing world.  Christ confronted the terrors of human existence and overcame them.  The Risen One now knows an indestructible life and, at the same time, has the power to give it to others, even in this world.  Divine love, victorious in Christ, calms the deepest human fears.  In light of the Resurrection, the person sees the future assured.  The person can give him/herself to the project of Christ, leaving worry about human security behind.  Before the Christ Risen, a person of faith is free to live in joy and in abandonment to Providence, which promises every good thing following the decision to commit one hundred percent to the Kingdom of the Risen Lord.

The person who runs behind an elephant doesn’t get wet from the dew.  (Ghana)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 27

Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed; let us then feast with joy in the Lord. (Gospel Acclamation, Easter Sunday).

The rite began as usual.  It was evening, just after sunset, at the hour of the immolation of the paschal lamb in the Temple.  A young rabbi gathered his twelve disciples around a table traditionally prepared with candles, bread and wine, bitters herbs and the consecrated lamb.  As Master, he began the prayer remembering the slavery of the ancestors, the killing of the lamb, the passage through the Red Sea, the Law of Moses at Mt. Sinai, the Promised Land.  He gave thanks.  But suddenly he did something outside the usual ritual.  In taking the bread, he said, “This is my body, given over for you!”  His friends, surprised, looked first at the pieces of bread in their hands and then at the lamb on the table.  They began to understand:  the rabbi was saying that he was the new lamb immolated for them.  Then the rabbi took the cup, saying, “This is my blood poured out for you!”  His friends looked at the cup in his hands and again at the lamb on the table and they understood the newness of it.  It was not the blood of the lamb on the table, but that of the rabbi that delivered them from the scourge of death, from arrogance against God, from egotism, from the troubles of heart.  It was the blood of the Master that accomplished all this and not the blood of the traditional lamb on the table.  They understood that in eating this bread and drinking this cup they would have new deliverance, new freedom, new life.  They gave thanks.  They comprehended for the first time the new Passover rubric, “Do this in memory of me!”

It is at the end of a rope already woven that one weaves a new one.  (Mossi)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 26

Glorious Cross  26 April
Verbum Crucis, Dei Virtus – The Word of the Cross, the Power of God (Crosier motto).

One of the most striking aspects of Jesus’ Passion was his patience during the trials and the humiliation suffered at the hands of his aggressors.  Jesus spoke not a word.  How was it possible for the Lord of the Universe to support such blasphemous behavior without speaking, without avenging himself?  What was the motive holding back the hand of divine justice?  With what power did God block the exercise of omnipotence that would have been totally justified?  Obviously, it was simply love.  The world thinks differently about the use of power.  Its conviction is, sadly, that might makes right.  But in the eyes of the All-Powerful it is otherwise.  Love is the most powerful force in divine and human interactions.  Love never seeks to correct error with violence.  Clearly, it is the Cross that contradicts the worldly perspective.  Jesus’ patience on the Cross, which went as far as pardoning his abusers, restored the order of justice in the world.  Those who know the Risen Lord share this point of view and become capable of behaving in like manner.  Such patience is a fruit of the Spirit.  To absorb evil, transforming it in a heart of love, is the word of the Cross and the power of God.  It is the risen life.

Learn while weeping, you will win while laughing. (Unknown) 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 25

Glorious Cross  25 April
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous.  The Prince of Life, who died, reigns immortal (Sequence, Easter Sunday).

While the classic struggle between the forces of good and evil predicted in the Book of Genesis (3:15) has its end in Christ’s definitive Easter victory of life over death, the struggle to extend the impact of that triumph in the world continues.  It is not a question of doubt about its reality, but rather a question of its on-going realization until the Second Coming of Christ.  Christ made sacramental provision for that to happen.  He shares his power with his disciples to accomplish this by the invocation of the Spirit and the imposition of hands, called the Sacrament of Confirmation.  In this sacrament, the Spirit of Jesus Risen seals the reality of salvation in the Christian and equips the person for the “cleanup” battle.  The Letter to the Ephesians (6:14-17) speaks of this in images of the battle dress of the Roman centurion:  the Belt of Truth for a “gutsy” conversation with the world; the Breastplate of Justice for the courageous promotion of human dignity; the Footgear of Zeal for the energetic pursuit of peace; the Shield of Faith to extinguish with unshakeable confidence the fiery darts of the Evil One; the Helmet of Salvation for an unswerving commitment of service to the end; and the Sword of the Spirit to speak prophetically in the God’s name.  The Bishop’s traditional gestures of anointing and striking the cheek remind the confirmed of the force and threat to be met with in the work of bringing about the Kingdom.

The person who is courageous is known when the battle gets furious.  (Burundi)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 24

Glorious Cross  April 24

(The Crosier) has a sense of humor and a joyful heart that knows how to overcome difficulties (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).

Shocked by the humiliation and execution of their Master, depressed certainly by the treason and eventual suicide of their colleague Iscariot and embarrassed by the total lack of courage on the part of everyone, the disciples found themselves fearful together in the room of their last meeting with Jesus.  Except for John, no one could rail against anyone else, so despicable was their behavior in common.  Peter in particular was full of remorse, his eyes still red because of the profusion of his tears.  What were they there waiting for?  Certainly not a sudden appearance of Christ!  And certainly not a pleasant encounter with him!   On the contrary, in their imagination, a meeting with Jesus then, given their desertion of him, could only be a justifiable experience of his anger and condemnation.  But “Shalom!” he said.  According to their tradition that meant, “Best wishes!  Be well!  May your life be full of prosperity and peace!”  How is it possible that someone who had been abandoned by his friends to unbearable suffering and a degrading death could meet them afterwards with a smile?  And even more incredible, how is it possible that he would still bear the physical marks of his suffering?  Evidently he is someone who can laugh in the face of misfortune.  But this is how he appeared to them.  Stunned, they welcomed him with a confused joy.  At that moment, they could not understand that they would be called on many times in the future to behave in the same way toward others as he was behaving toward them.

Even if the rain beats down, it does not diminish the bite of the chili pepper.  (Baoule)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 23

Glorious Cross  April 23

I am risen, and I am always with you, alleluia; you have placed your hand upon me alleluia; your wisdom has been shown to be most wonderful, alleluia, alleluia. (Entrance Antiphon, Easter Sunday).

There were no eyewitnesses to the actual event of the Resurrection of Jesus.  The Gospels offer only the testimonies of those who saw him afterwards.  And the testimonies differ from one another in the details, depending on the objectives of the particular scripture writers and the traditions of their local communities.  All agree, nonetheless, on the fundamentals.  It happened on Sunday.  There were apparitions to the women.  The tomb was empty.  There were angels.  And all the witnesses affirm that there was a physical resurrection of the crucified one, that the Risen Christ was in a state of glorification and that the Resurrection event was crucial to Christian faith.  The rest of New Testament and later Church doctrine was developed on this foundation.  But the most powerful proofs of the Resurrection were always its fruits in the lives of the believers.  What speaks are the personal conversions of the Christians, the creativity and strength of their commitment, the miracles done through their faith and, thanks to their love, their martyrdoms.  What’s more, the quality of their community life and the humanization of the society where they live give formidable evidence to support the proposition that Jesus is really risen.  The verbal proclamation is important, but the fruits of this faith, which translates itself into daily life, are difficult to dismiss.

A person lives more willingly with someone who feeds him that with someone who only offers chatter.  (Shi)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 22

Glorious Cross  April 22

In Cruce Vita – In the Cross, Life (Crosier motto).

The first word that came from the mouth of the Risen Christ in the presence of his disciples in the Cenacle was “Shalom!”  The greeting could not have been more appropriate.  The word is a wish for the realization of every good thing at every level of human life.  The word evoked for the Jew the vision of the Garden:  divine friendship, nature at its best, a healthy and immortal body, a clear mind, balanced emotions, loving relationships, moral conviction.  When Jesus presented himself in the Upper Room, what could his disciples perceive?  “Shalom!”  Certainly the most contemplative among them had to be seeing through his glorified body all the way back to the Garden.  What joy!  The Risen Christ seemed to be embracing in his glorified state all the ancestral happiness, Adam restored!  “Shalom!”  Seeing his risen person before them, the disciples could already feel the new sprouting of the Garden in them, the divine energy that had already begun its work.  What promises of physical, intellectual, psychological, moral, social and spiritual well-being!  “Shalom!”  And certainly, with eyes of renewed faith, they saw ahead to the new heavens and the new earth, promised by God on the Day of the Lord.  In the Risen Christ, the future is assured!  “Shalom!” he said.  And they were saved!  The secret of the Cross of Good Friday was revealed:  life takes on its fullness!  “Shalom!”  The invigorating greeting on the lips of the glorified Christ became from then on the sacramental greeting of the Church.

In the field, a bunch of bananas proves itself ripe when one banana ripens on top.  (Shi)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 21

Glorious Cross  April 21

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who . . . was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? (Renewal of Baptismal Promises, Easter Vigil).

The most primitive material of the New Testament consists of the stories of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.  Having experienced the Risen Christ, Christians began to collect the stories about his suffering and his resurrection for the work of evangelization and catechesis in the community.  The other stories about his birth and public ministry were also gathered and developed to support the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery.  After the death of the Apostles, certain disciples, inspired by the Spirit, wrote down the central and supporting traditions in order to have them in permanent form.  Thus, the Church from the beginning proposed as essential to the Good News (“kerygma”) that Jesus, crucified for the sins of the world, was raised up as Lord by the power of God.  To this message people should respond by conversion and faith.  And that remains the call.  To be converted means to let oneself be touched by the love of the Cross to the point of a radical reorientation of life.  To believe means to live by the light of the Paschal Mystery and count only on Christ for one’s happiness.  This is the Christian profession of faith.

No one builds a new house without using old bamboo.  (Bamileke)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Parable and Conscience Meditation April 20

Glorious Cross  April 20

We consider as our mission awakening saving hope and happiness for others, especially among the poor and insignificant, opening in practical ways for them a more human and religious existence (Congolese Regional Statutes, Intro., 1.1).

The Twelve stood there, their mouths wide open, their eyes staring at the heavens.  But after a while, the heavens found this situation odd and spoke through an angel, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” (Ac 1:11).  There is work to be done.  Do you think that the One who ascended has left the earth to realize his victory elsewhere?  Quite the contrary, he went to his Father to represent with greater intensity the human situation, to make of his death and resurrection an eternal prayer before his Father.  But the answer to that prayer depends on your collaboration.  Have you forgotten that Jesus prayed for a consecration like his own for you?  He prayed that you, in his name and with the power of his prayer, would go into the world to save it.  Without your witness, the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus will not touch the small and the poor, the disorder and egotism and savagery of the world will predominate and human life will not come to its fullness.  Fix your eyes on the world and go!

It is thanks to love that two ants lifted up a monkey.  (Bansu Bansu)