To have the creativity necessary to open ourselves to a new mentality and to accomplish new things, let us renew our availability to cooperate with God.
Homily. Our reflection on the readings that have just been proclaimed, takes into account the context that we have lived together and it is as a gathering of the Pauline Family that we want to take from the Word of God some solid support to make good use of for the future of our charism.
Through the parable of the virgins who go to meet the spouse to form the bridal procession (Mt 25,1-13), the evangelist Matthew shows us how the community of which he is an expression has given an answer to the delay of the glorious coming of Christ that all thought to be imminent. One who believes in Christ must live in the condition of being ready at any moment, because we do not know the exact date of his arrival. The faith that warns us against the surprises of time is compared to the virgin who with her lamp carries with herself a provision in the vases.
With the due proportion, let us apply this evangelical wisdom to the results of our Seminar. The reason that has made the idea and the program of this meeting to arise has been the observation of a difference among the actual exegetical studies on Saint Paul, the interpretation that our Founder gives of the Apostle, and the task that has been entrusted to all the Paulines of today “to be Saint Paul living today in a social body”. It seems that the exegetical results offer us the personality of Saint Paul with some characteristics that not always synchronize with the reading that blessed Alberione makes of him and that the concrete Pauline life of every day incarnates.
Even for us the time that passes has influenced the spiritual source that inspires our charism and if it is indisputable that the Founder has realized through his works an even now original and admirable reading of the spirit of Saint Paul, after almost a hundred years it is necessary to reflect on the same charism to rethink it and to express it once more.
The Society of Saint Paul and the Pauline Family need to provide themselves with “oil in reserve”: we are called to the responsibility of prevision. Even the present-day studies on Saint Paul contribute to create an historical context that requires not some superficial corrective, but an entire radical rethinking of the Pauline spirituality and mission.
The changeable elements of our charism are questioned not only by the continual surprise of the changes in communication, but also by the unexpected conclusions of the studies on Saint Paul. Thus, there are two sources of rejuvenation for our charism: a new understanding of the experience of faith thought, written and preached by Saint Paul and a new vision of communication in which we have received the task of evangelizing.
As we put our hand on this relaunching of the Pauline charism in spirituality and mission, we must firmly keep before our eyes the creative method of the Founder. We must know how to fuse the commitment of sanctification with the mission of evangelization that blessed Alberione has perceived to be contained in the invitation of Christ: “Come ye all to me” (Mt 11, 28). The Pauline charism is to be rethought with a missionary faith in communication. The preoccupation of all the foundational work of Fr. Alberione is pastoral: on the model of Saint Paul “to make oneself all for all so as to save by all means some” (1Cor 9,22). The objective is for a new personal life in Christ to become “salvation”, useful and effective testimony for others.
Using to advantage from this point of view the first reading (1Jn 1,5-2,2), we can underline the passage: “My children, I write you these things so that you may not sin; but if anyone has sinned, we have an advocate with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous”.
This affirmation is to be picked up by us Paulines to convince us of the role of Christ toward the believer in him, but also in the sense that this truth is “written”: the author proposes to reach the same objective of consolation with the believers even when they are the readers of a letter of his. We find here a base of the pastoral zeal of blessed Alberione: “written preaching alongside oral preaching”.
The formulation of the Pauline charism worked out by the Founder with the light of the Spirit is a teaching for us also for the mentality with which he has operated: plan a complete project of new evangelization. This precaution allows us to avoid the danger of rejuvenating our charism only by integrating the most recent communications technology. It would be fatal!
All the components of evangelization (the receptors, the contents of the message, the method with which to act, the means to adopt, the persons to involve) must be thought by us together with the totality of the “four wheels of the Pauline cart” (spirituality, study, apostolate, common life and vows). In the time of preparation for the centenary of our foundation, the Pauline family has the providential opportunity to rethink the four “wheels of the cart” not individually, but together so that they may be capable of speeding up the movement of evangelization.
In this way she acts with the prudence of endowing herself with a reserve of oil, as the Gospel of today reminds, and of having clear the objective of evangelizing even through communication (as the first reading shows, making use of the letter).
Fr. Silvio Sassi, SSP