The Word of God, a key point of the spirituality of unity, has been the focus of Focolare President Maria Voce in recent conversations. Here she examines how putting the Word of God into practice in today’s world brings new motivation to dialogue
(taken from www.livingcitymagazine.com)
By Maria Voce
Let’s ask ourselves: what effects of the Word of God lived out has the Focolare experienced in its nearly 70 years? Observing our life, personally and as a movement, we can identify several.
The Word of God lived out has brought about change and conversion in us and around us.
- It has given new life to us, making us free from ourselves, from human influence, from external circumstances.
- It has enlightened us; it has made us experience joy, peace and security, which we have spread around us as well.
- It has made us relish union with God.
- It has made us experience the Gospel promise, “Ask and you will receive” (Jn 16:24), and it has made us initiate concrete activities and projects.
- It has created the community: “People who were previously strangers to one another became a family,” wrote Focolare founder Chiara Lubich. “Christians who had been indifferent to one another came together as one.”
- It has made a new people come to life, a people with wide horizons.
- It has made us understand the Church in a new way, in its institutional and charismatic aspect, showing it to us as the “Gospel incarnate,” “Christ in action through the centuries,” “a magnificent garden with many flowers,” using Chiara’s expressions.
- It has made us discover that many brothers and sisters who have already reached the next life were words of God entirely lived out, to the point of fulfilling their design.
- It has made dialogue easier not only among Catholics but on all levels.
With Christians of other churches, the Word of God has helped us to discover in every tradition that word which constitutes the specific gift of each for mutual enrichment, and to make the lived Gospel the foundation of our common thrust toward full and visible communion.
In the document of theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation it is written: “The common way of listening to the Word of God and the faithful attachment to the one Gospel (see Gal 1:6–10) are essential steps on the way toward full unity. In his word ‘Christ himself edifies the Church and in this way fulfils his unity,’ by uniting his sacramental action to the word.”
With faithful of other religions, the Word of God showed that in everyone there is this sense of modeling one’s life on the Word of God.
For Muslims the Qur’an is a sure guide for those who have faith, who pray and do good. Surah 39 (17–18) says: “Announce the good news to my servants, those who listen to the word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are the ones whom Allah has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.”
Gandhi wrote: “Today the Bhagavad Gita [the sacred Hindu scripture] is like a mother to me. I lost my earthly mother who gave me birth long ago; but this eternal mother has completely filled her place by my side ever since. She has never changed; she has never failed me. When I am in difficulty or distress, I seek refuge in her bosom.”
I recall what Reverend Nikkyo Niwano [founder of the Buddhist lay movement Rissho Kosei-kai] wrote in a letter to Chiara in 1987: “We shouldn’t read the scriptures mechanically or interpret them in a purely philosophical way. Buddhism has a vast amount of writings — 84,000 works, and yet they will not be needed for our salvation if we don’t read them together with our religious practice in our daily life. We shouldn’t play with the words of God and of Buddha, but we should incorporate them in our life.”
With people of other convictions and different cultures, the Word of God has emphasized all those human aspects of Jesus, who, by sharing in every suffering of humanity, invites people to collaborate together in order to bring relief to those in need.
God’s Word, therefore, is the basis of every dialogue.