From a culture of trust to the primacy of relationships

Speaking to a group of Focolarini on 19 September, Maria Voce shared what is closest to her heart at this time. Some highlights of this spontaneous reflection:

Defining it as “a new step”, Maria Voce is reaching out to Focolare communities worldwide. What is closest to President of the Focolare Movement, Maria Voce’s heart can be summed up in one word: “relationships”. This new invitation seems to complete a trajectory launched 12 years ago, in the early days of her appointment as Focolare President, when she invited everyone to take on a “culture of trust”, building relationships capable of generating peaceful social co-existence respecting diversity.

As her second term draws to a close, with the Movement’s General Assembly just a few months away, the world is deeply affected by this long pandemic and economic crisis. In this context, Maria Voce returns to one of the key themes of her presidency: the centrality of relationships, as seen from the perspective of Chiara Lubich’s charism. It is an invitation once more to act as part of a network and in fraternal communion with all those individuals, communities and organizations who are pointing in the same direction, towards fraternity.

“I was deeply struck by the thought that Chiara, in 1943, found herself in a devastated world, where everything around her was collapsing. And God said to her heart, ‘It’s not true that everything is collapsing. There’s something that does not collapse. It’s God and God alone!’ And what did Chiara do? She went out with the message: God is, God loves us, this God exists beyond the war. This is what was needed at that time.

Jesus came on earth, and He certainly didn’t come alone, because where Jesus – the Son of God – is, the whole Trinity is present. So God the Trinity came on earth to show us the way, to teach us how to live according to the Trinity. To do what? To transform the world.

But what does it mean? It means relationships, it means connections, it means equality, it means listening to one another, it means being for one another, in a certain sense knowing how to ‘lose’ oneself in another.

This morning I was thinking about this and I asked myself, Jesus came on earth and what did He do? He walked along the roads of Galilee, and what did He find? An official, most probably involved in corrupt tax-collecting practices; a young man fascinated by the words He spoke; a small businessman, Peter, who owned a boat. And He called them. He had the courage to transform them into His apostles, which means into people sent out to continue carrying His message to the furthest corners of the earth.

What else did He find? He found people of all types. He found sinners, the dead, those who were hungry. And what did He do? He multiplied the bread, He raised the dead … He got involved in meeting the needs of others, staying among them. He even managed to draw the crowd following Him. What does it mean? He created community. He formed a community capable of listening to one another, to recognize that someone spoke a different language and to listen to them in their own language. What does it mean? It means they were capable of really accepting one another, of understanding each other even when someone speaks differently, they were really capable of accepting each other.

He transformed these people into His fraternity, His community. And He got them living solidarity between themselves. You see, when they were hungry, he said, ‘Give them something to eat’; when he cured the woman with a fever, she then got up and started to serve them; He gave the child whom He raised up back to her family so that they could look after her. You see, He did not destroy anything that was already there, but rather He transformed it!

So what should we do? We must transform the world by ‘being’ this Jesus. We must bring these Trinitarian relationships. And there’s no other way except by choosing Jesus Forsaken, which means knowing how to lose oneself in the other, knowing how to let the other emerge. Then God the Father will continue to create new things, and the Holy Spirit will continue to illuminate us”.

edited by Stefania Tanesini