OUR FOUNDER TODAY
THE CONVERTING WORD OF GOD
SMA Father Rémi F Kouassi (from Ivory Coast) shares with us some thoughts on the SMA Founder and the converting Word of God. Ordained in 2006, Fr Rémi teaches Scripture at the Missionary Institute (CFMA) in Abidjan.
On Wednesday March 9th 2011, the Church’s Ordinary Time will cease and the challenging Lenten Season will begin. For forty days the liturgy will invite us to leave the ordinary everyday routine of our lives in order to live more fully our evolving Christian life, which is the journey of our own conversion! Now is the favorable time, the time of Salvation, (or more explicitly, it is the time when we ought to work for our Salvation cf. Ph 2:12) as we will hear Saint Paul reminding us. (2 Co 6:2).
On this journey towards Easter, towards the Mystery by which we have become a new creation, reconciled with God, each day the word of God is proposed to us as a light for our steps and a lamp for our path.
The Church’s selection of liturgical texts fits well into the objective of this time of year: to guide Christians towards a deeper conversion. Joel will be inviting us to come back to the Lord and to tear our hearts. Thus, Psalm 50 and the Prophet Ezekiel will be petitioning the Lord to give us a new heart and put a new spirit within us (Ash Wednesday). The book of Leviticus will be reminding us that we are called to be holy because God himself is holy (Monday of the First Week of Lent). On the Saturday of the Second Week of Lent, we will be expressing our desire to resurrect anew with Christ, like the Prodigal Son, who was dead but who has come back to life, who ‘rises’ (from the verb used by Anastasia) and returns to his Father. Many times, during the Third Week we will be responding to the first reading with these words: « O that today you would listen to his voice; harden not your hearts».
Indeed, our conversion, which will take place each day in the living out of our Christian life, occurs through listening to the Lord’s voice and to the Word of God, which offers us Salvation and the possibility of a deeper conversion each time we listen to it.
As missionaries, this daily hearing of God’s Word takes on the power of a twofold conversion: our own and that of those to whom we bear the Word of Eternal Life. The latter partially depends on the first. In other words, it is only when the Word of God enriches our own lives that our mission gains its true fecundity. The proclamation of the Incarnate Word first passes through the incarnation of the Word of Life into our lives. This is what Pope Benedict XVI underlined in the apostolic exhortation, Verbum Domini, when he says: « the Word itself sends us to our brothers: it is the word that illuminates, purifies and converts ». Furthermore, after reaffirming the urgency and the necessity of mission ad Gentes, the pope reiterates Paul VI’s idea, when speaking of the direct link between the witness of Scripture (proclamation) and the witness of life (living proclamation). The vitality of this living proclamation, which guarantees the credibility and the pertinence of the proclaimed Word, is deeply rooted in the conversion process which is the leitmotif of the Christian and missionary life.
Bishop de Brésillac, missionary, and our Founder, was deeply convinced of the transforming power of God’s Word in the process of a deep conversion.
At the beginning of the retreat preached to missionaries in 1849, while avoiding speaking about mortal sin or the threat of hell, he invited the retreatants to become a new creation, new priests, new missionaries (who pass through the experience of conversion), by continuously fixing their eyes on the holy Gospel and by allowing at least one Word of Jesus to find a place in their hearts. In his preaching he, himself, sought only to be the echo of God’s Word.
May the invitation of Bishop de Brésillac find a favorable echo in the heart of each of his sons in order to increase, at the beginning of this Lenten Season, the taste for God’s Word and the savour for lectio divina, because it is there that God’s Word enriches our lives for a fruitful apostolate.
Rémi Fatchéoun Kouassi, SMA