Focolare Word of Life – September 2014

 
“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom 15:7)

These words are among the last recommendations Saint Paul made in his letter to the Christians in Rome. This community, like many others spread throughout the Focolare Word of Life LogoGreco-Roman world, included believers who came from both Gentile and Jewish backgrounds. Their mentality, cultural formation, and sensitivity to spirituality were quite diverse. This diversity produced attitudes of judging, of prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance toward each other that could not be reconciled with the attitude of reciprocal welcome that God would have wanted them to have.

To help them overcome these difficulties, the Apostle could find no more effective means than to make them reflect on the grace of their conversion. The fact that Jesus had called them to faith, giving them the gift of his Spirit, was tangible proof of his personal love for each one of them. In spite of their past life and the diversity of their backgrounds, Jesus had brought them together to form one body.

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

These words of Saint Paul remind us of one of the most touching aspects of Jesus’ love. It is the love with which Jesus, during his life on earth, always welcomed everyone, especially those who were outcasts, who were most in need, who were farthest away. It is the love with which Jesus offered his trust, his confidence, his friendship to everyone, knocking down, one by one, the barriers of pride and selfishness that had been erected in the society of his times.

Jesus was the visible sign of that perfect welcoming love that the heavenly Father has for each one of us, and of that love which, as a result, we must have for one another. It is the first will of God for us to live out. For this reason we could render no greater glory to God than to try to welcome each other in the same way that Jesus welcomed us.

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

How should we live this word of life? It draws our attention to one of the aspects of human selfishness that is most common and most difficult to uproot, that is, the tendency to isolate ourselves, to discriminate against and exclude others who are different and who could annoy us.

Let us try to put this word of life into practice first of all within our families, associations, communities and groups of coworkers by getting rid of our tendency to judge others, our discrimination, prejudice, resentment or intolerance toward this or that neighbor. These attitudes are common and easy to fall into, but they have a compromising and chilling effect on human relationships. They block our mutual love, just like rust corrodes.

Then, let us put these words into practice by bearing witness to the welcoming love of Jesus with every neighbor that the Lord puts next to us — particularly with those whom our collective social selfishness tends to exclude and to cast aside.

The act of welcoming others who are different from ourselves lies at the very basis of Christian love. It is the starting point, the first brick in building a civilization of love and fostering that culture of sharing that Jesus is calling us to especially today.

Chiara Lubich
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Each month a Scripture passage is offered as a guide and inspiration for daily living. This commentary, translated into 96 different languages and dialects, reaches several million people worldwide through print, radio, television and the Internet. Ever since the Focolare’s beginnings, founder Chiara Lubich (1920–2008) wrote her commentaries each month. This one was originally published in December 1992.

This monthly leaflet is a supplement to Living City, the Focolare magazine (livingcitymagazine.com). People’s life experiences as they put the monthly phrases into practice can be read in Living City or in books published by New City Press (newcitypress.com).

For information and to subscribe to this leaflet or to the magazine, write to: Living City, 202 Comforter Blvd, Hyde Park, New York 12538; tel: 845-229-0496; e-mail: livingcity@livingcitymagazine.com. Visit focolare.org (international); focolare.us (U.S.).

© 2014 by Living City of the Focolare Movement, Inc.

Read more on this topic:

  1. Lubich, Chiara. “Love everyone,” The Art of Loving, New City Press, Hyde Park, New York, 2005, pg. 29.
  2. Ess, Fr. Tom, OFM, et.al. “Love of neighbor,” Called to be community: a guide to living a spirituality of communion, Living City Magazine, Hyde Park, New York, 2014, p. 29.
  3. Lubich, Chiara. “What Future for a Multiethnic, Multicultural, Multifaith Society?” Essential Writings, New City Press, Hyde Park, New York, 2007, p. 337.

Next month:

October 2014

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (Jn 6:35).