Chiara Lubich's commentary on the Word of life of May 2005

It was the evening of Easter Sunday. The risen Jesus had already appeared to Mary of Magdala; Peter and John had seen the empty tomb. And yet, the disciples continued to remain shut up in the house, paralyzed by fear. Then, even though the doors were locked, the Risen Lord appeared in their midst, for no barrier could separate him from his friends any longer.
Jesus had left but, as he had promised, he was returning to stay with them forever: “He came and stood in their midst” (Jn 20:19). It was not a fleeting apparition, but a permanent presence! From that moment on, the disciples would no longer be alone and their fear would be replaced by a deep joy: “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord”(Jn 20:20). The Risen Lord opened wide their hearts and the doors of their homes onto the whole world, saying to them:

«As the Father has sent me, so I send you»

Jesus had been sent by the Father to reconcile everyone with God and reunite humanity. Now it was up to his disciples to build up the Church. As Jesus had been able to fulfill the Father’s plan because he was one with him, so too would they be empowered to bring ahead this lofty mission because the Risen Lord was in them. “I in them”(Jn 17:23), Jesus had asked the Father.
From the Father to Jesus, from Jesus to the apostles, from the apostles to their successors, this mandate never waned.
But every Christian needs to hear these words of Jesus resonating in his or her heart. In fact, “there is a diversity of ministries in the Church, but unity of mission” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2).

«As the Father has sent me, so I send you»

To fulfill this mandate of the Lord, we have to act in such a way that he may live in us. How? By being living members of the Church, by being one with the word of God, and by evangelizing ourselves first of all.
It is one of the duties that John Paul II called “a new evangelization.” “To nourish ourselves with the word,” he wrote, “in order to be ‘servants of the word’ in the work of evangelization: this is surely a priority for the Church at the dawn of the new millennium” (Novo Millennium Ineunte, n. 40), because “only a person who has been renewed” by the “law of love of Christ and the light of the Holy Spirit can bring about a true metánoia [conversion] in the minds and hearts of other people, in the fabric of a society, in a nation or in the world” (To the pilgrims of the diocese of Torun, Poland, February 19, 1998).

Nowadays, words are not enough. “Humanity today would rather hear witnesses than teachers,” noted Paul VI, “and if teachers are heard, it is because they themselves are the example of what they teach” (General Audience, October 2, 1974). The proclamation of the Gospel will be effective if it is based on a witness of life, such as that given by the first Christians who could say that they preached “what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes” (1 Jn 1:1). The Gospel would be effective if what was said of them could be said of us: “Look at how they love one another, and how they are ready to lay down their lives for each other” (Tertullian, Apology, 39,7). It will be effective if we make our love concrete by giving and responding to those in need, and if we feed, clothe, and give lodging to those who are homeless, offer friendship to those who are alone and desperate, and provide support to those undergoing a time of trial.
Living in this way we will allow others to experience what a captivating figure Jesus is and, by becoming like Christ, we will give our contribution to the continuation of his work.

«As the Father has sent me, so I send you»

This was the experience of some of our doctors and nurses after they learned in 1996 about the situation in Cameroon, Africa of the noble Bangwa people, whose illnesses, with their 90% infant mortality rate, threatened their very extinction.
Our doctors and nurses went to live with those people and felt that their first duty was to maintain their mutual love so as to bear witness to the Gospel. They loved one person at a time without making any distinctions. They offered their professional expertise and opened up a medical clinic that soon grew into a hospital. The infant mortality was reduced to 2%. In the middle of the forest an electrical power plant was built. Then came a school for elementary and high school levels. Over time and with the help of the Bangwa people, twelve roads were constructed that connected them with other villages.
Concrete love is contagious: a considerable portion of the population began to live this new Gospel-based life. Villages that were often in conflict with each other were reconciled. Land disputes were resolved in harmony. A number of tribal leaders formulated a pact of mutual love between them and began to live in brotherhood, offering in their exchange of gifts a wonderful witness, an example that was both original and authentic.

 

Chiara Lubich

 

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