“That all may be one. We were born for these words of unity, to contribute to making it a reality in the world.” The words of Chiara Lubich, commented on by Bishop Felix Liam, President of the Episcopal Conference of Myanmar, on the first day of the meeting (1- 4 June 2017), well evidenced the aim of the convention held this year in Yangon, Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia, on the western side of Indochina. These conventions held every year at international, ecumenical and regional levels,began about 40 years ago on the initiative of Chiara Lubich and Klaus Hemmerle (1929-1994), then Bishop of Aachingen, (Germany)..
In Yangon, with a strong presence of the episcopate of Myanmar (19 bishops), there was a warm family atmosphere. Among the 31 participants,a good number came from the Philippines, India, Malaysia and South Korea.
In communicating his experience on his encounter with the spirituality of unity, Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak of Bangkok, moderator of the bishop-friends of the Focolare, invited the bishops to discover and deepen one of the fundamental points of the spirituality of unity: Jesus crucified and abandoned, and place it in the centre of their lives in order to become instruments of communion in the Church and humanity.
This was also testified to by the experience of the members of the local community of the Focolare who had prepared to welcome the bishops in the best way possible. But also some bishops, like the Irish Bishop Brendan Leahy, see in the mystery of Jesus forsaken, the “countenance of mercy, key to dialogue and unity, and pathway to the sanctity of the people.” The life of Bishop Klaus Hemmerle was conveyed through a PowerPoint presentation and brief videos that showed the amazing fruitfulness of love for Jesus Forsaken even in the most “critical” situations. The themes on Evangelisation and Inculturation in the spirituality of unity were very actual and trigged particular interest in a country which is mostly Buddhist.
The story of Chiara Lubich and the Movement she had given life to, along with the experiences of the members of the local community, was very moving. Cardinal Carlo Bo, archbishop of Yangon said: “I was very impressed by the story of the charismatic and prophetic life of the founder of the movement. More than ever the Church needs movements like the Focolare. While the arrogance of power divides people according to colour and race, Chiara created a global communion for worldwide peace.”
Bishop Matthias (Myanmar) commented: “When one usually participates in the meeting of bishops, we listen to many things, but on an intellectual level. Instead, here we talk about life and we see happy people.»And Bishop Isaac (Myanmar):“The life of a bishop is not easy, and we ourselves often feel abandoned. Now that I have met Jesus Forsaken, I will have the strength and the light to go ahead.” From Korea, Bishop Peter added: «It is the first time for me to participate in a meeting of bishops. Here I saw people who try to love Jesus Forsaken in every difficulty; people who are behind the wings, try to serve all of us,» referring to the members of the local community of the Movement.
Openness to cultural and interreligious dialogue was assumed in the golden colours of the Pagoda of Shwedagon, the most important and renowned in the capital, and in which the relics of the four Buddhas are jealously guarded. The visit to this sacred place on the hill of Singuttara, to the west of Royal Lake, was a symbol of respect for the Buddhist soul and the culture of the place. At the top of the Pagoda, a banner-like anemoscope scattered with precious stones, displays the direction of the wind. If sufficiently supported, its fluttering is accompanied by the sound of tiny bells.
The Myanmar bishops are certain of which direction the wind is blowing: in the direction of unity, towards a Church which is increasingly a witness of “communion”.