“Who knows if our role is not so much to give ‘light’, but rather to enter into the darkness, into the mud, into the desperation of lack of dignity, […] into the thousands of different kinds of poverty of our times?” This provocative question may best capture the second day of the spiritual retreat of the Focolare General Assembly.
After the opening ecumenical prayer which emphasized the need for a profound conversion of hearts, Stefan Tobler, theologian of the Swiss Reformed Church and Paula Luengo, psychologist from Chile, presented the central theme of ‘incarnation’: what does the fact that God became man, became least with the least, actually mean? And what does it mean for the Focolare today to live the spirituality of unity and make it concrete?
The speakers presented their reflections from two complementary points of view. Starting from the mystical writings of Chiara Lubich, Stefan Tobler highlighted the value of the incarnation.“For Chiara, it is not just a past moment in history, but rather a fact that permanently changed the meaning of all creation, giving a value of eternity, of highest dignity to the things of this earth”. And, Dr Tober concluded, the incarnation will continue if we’re able to “have simple eyes which can discover God behind the reality of this world”.
This new dignity that the world assumes when viewed in this light should provoke a change of perspective on our part, explains Paula Luengo. “We will not find our identity by navel-gazing, but by embracing – as Chiara says – ‘all the suns'”. We must “start from humanity with its abysses. Incarnation has therefore an impetus that seeks proximity and reaches deep down ”.
Two other contributors reached the same conclusion. Luigino Bruni, Professor of Political Economics and the History of Economic Thought, and Silvina Chemen, a rabbi in Buenos Aires, offered their reflections on “charism, prophecy and incarnation”, posing the question: is it still possible to speak of the prophetic dimension of a charism today? “Where there are brothers and sisters,” argued Silvina Chemen, “there is prophecy. Where there’s fraternity, the voice [of God] appears; when we’re truly together, God manifests himself”.
In the group meetings many questions emerged about the present and the future of the Movement, such as what it means to remain faithful to the roots today. “Being able – explains Luigino Bruni – in the charismatic communities to understand that the first story, that wonderful story that made us dream and let us see the sky, is over: this is a particularly difficult act. But the story will continue because the promise was greater than the first clothing that our faith wore in the first part of the journey ”.