Divine Word Missionaries
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Homily Of Fr Paulus Budi Kleden
September 30, 2018
Today, we start the new sexenium of the leadership of our congregation. We all know that the Society is not only the responsibility of the seven confreres put in charge of the general administration for the coming six years. It is the responsibility of each province, region and mission, of each community, and of each member of the Society.
Reference to the readings
The readings this Sunday make clear a tension that exists in the Church, in every religious congregation, in its leadership and in the life of every single Christian. There is the tension between discipline and freedom, between norms and creativity, between the faithfulness to the tradition and the openness to newness.
The first reading pictures to us Moses who gathered the seventy eldest of Israel in a place, shared with them the spirit given to him, to enable them to prophesy. However, two who were gifted with the spirit to prophesy were not in the group. In the name of order and discipline Joshua raised his voice asking Moses to stop them but Moses was of a different opinion. He was aware that God's spirit cannot be limited within the boundaries he made. God's spirit is able to empower everybody to proclaim God's Word everywhere.
Exactly the same logic is followed in the Gospel passage we heard today. John brings to Jesus' attention someone outside of the group performing the works as the disciples do. What determines whether someone performs good things or not? Membership in the group of Jesus is not the only criterion to determine who is for or against him. The more important is the work done as a response to the Word spoken to people. God speaks his Word also outside the contexts we are familiar with.
The second reading reminds us of the consequences of following the Incarnate Word of God. Because the Word has become flesh and dwelt among us, we are called to take seriously our daily responsibility to our fellow human beings, to those with whom we dwell and work. We should not get lost in our concern about our own future and neglect our obligation to those who give their life for us. Saint James criticized sharply the rich because they "have stored up treasure for the last days", and forgot the wages they withhold from the workers whose and cries have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
These three readings invite us to reflect on the Word of God because as missionaries of the Divine Word, our name is our mission. The Word of God is the source of our life, vocation and mission. I want to underline three characteristics of the Word of God which will guide us in the years to come.
The Word in the Trinitarian Community: rootedness in the community
The Word is the second person of the Trinity. As such the Word is deeply rooted in communion with the Father and the Spirit. The Word fully receives and totally gives itself to the Father and the Spirit. It lives from and for the Father and the Spirit.
Following the Word in its rootedness in the Trinitarian community brings about two consequences. The first is to intensify our relationship with God. His life can only be our life if we remain connected with Him, if we let Him reside in us. We make space and give time for Him if we listen to Him, to what He shares with us in His creation, in the words of the Bible, in the signs of the times and the experiences of His people, especially the poor and the marginalized.
The readings of today ask us to be open to the prophecy from the margins, to listen to those who do not belong to the "normal" group", to the strangers and foreigners, to the excluded and abandoned, to the last ones. Listening to the last ones will confront us with God who is always less familiar than we think. This unknown and unfamiliar God calls us to newness, summons us from our habitual experience of God to an encounter with God who is different enough to motivate us to a different way of living and being.
The second consequence is to be in communion with God who eventually makes us into a people of a community. Because God is communion, being rooted in His Word means being rooted in the community. The quality of community life depends on the commitment and contribution of each of its members. We are people of a community only when we bear responsibility for each other, when the solidarity with the confreres and others becomes the guiding principle in our life, when we are bound in using our resources to think of how confreres and other people in other parts of the country or of the world have to meet their needs. We are people of community if we fulfill the minimal requirement of justice, as the second reading asks the rich to accomplish their obligations to those with whom they live and work.
The Word of God as the divine creative power
As indicated in the Prologue of Saint John, which was the most favorite Gospel passage of our Founder, the Word is the creative power of God. "All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be" (Jn 1: 2). God speaks His Word that creates everything." This creative Word was not only spoken once at the beginning of the universe; it continues to sustain creation. The divine creative power does not give up before the darkness of human history. The Word of God as the manifestation of the love of the Triune God always finds ways to break down the wall of individualism. At times the Word can be very sharp, criticizing our way of thinking and doing, as Jesus did in the second part of the Gospel today.
Our rootedness in the Word will make us more creative in our missionary outreach. Being creative is the condition to be a missionary of our times. It does not mean that we have to abandon our tradition and forget our history. On the contrary, the more we are immersed in our tradition and acquainted with our history, the more we will realize and appreciate how creative were our Founder and the founding generation in finding ways to respond to the missionary challenges of their time.
Being creative does not make promises of easy success. At times we need to have the courage to take the risks of failure, of being rejected or misunderstood. That is the way the incarnate Word of God has gone through. Perseverance is the other side of creativity that we need to cultivate as missionaries of the Divine Word. Our being deeply connected with the Word and with our tradition and history will nourish our spirit of sacrifice which is the daily bread of a missionary, as our Saint Joseph Freinademetz says.
The Incarnate Word of God: the missionary God among us
The origin of the mission is the Triune God Himself. Not just the Church. For God Himself is in his nature missionary, because God is love, and the essence of love is crossing the borders, reaching out to others, sharing itself with others and let others be part of it. The Mission is the implementation of love. Saint Arnold said: the highest form of loving the neighbors is sharing with them the Good News. Because the Triune God is the God of love (1 Jn 4: 8), he sends his Son to the world. The incarnate Word of God is the presence of the missionary God among us.
However, the incarnation of the Word of God takes place in a world that is already marked by divisions and inequalities. Therefore God's intervention in history means always taking advocacy and position. Entering into the world and history that is already disturbed by the marginalization of the weak by the powerful and influential, God chooses to be at the place of those who are poor and victims of this oppressive system. Jesus, the incarnation of the Word of God, opted for the last ones. This is not an option to be against the others. For the sake of bringing all to unity, God prefers to be close to the margins and bring it to the attention of others.
As members of the new administration we carry this responsibility to remind all of us this important renewal of our missionary spirituality. We ask for support and collaboration from you, dear confreres, Sisters from the Arnoldus family, bishops, religious from other religious congregations, from our lay collaborators and mission partners. To be true to our name we need to be rooted in the Word in the Trinitarian community, in the Word of God as the divine creative power and in the Incarnate Word of God, the missionary among us. Only then can we truly say that we are Missionaries of the Divine Word because our name is our mission.