Sixth Report XX SMA General Assembly

Our ministry is a gift from God

This Friday, 26 April 2013, the 18th day of the SMA General Assembly, we continued the reflections on Formation, Spirituality & Lifestyle, Administration and Finance.

The homily for the Mass of that day was given by Father José Ramón Carballada SMA, Superior of the Spanish District. It is based on John 14: 1-6.

The disciples were worried

This scene shows Jesus telling his disciples of his departure, back to the Father. This announcement creates uncertainty and anxiety among them. They are worried. They ask questions, questions that the Johannine community asked at the end of the first century, the questions we ask today.

Their questions:

Thomas said he did not know the way;

Philip wanting to clear up all uncertainties asked Jesus, “Show us the Father, that is enough.”

Then Jude expresses another aspect of uncertainty of disciples, saying to him, “why are you showing yourself to us alone and not to the world?

Our questions:

Like the three disciples, three important questions. Let us imagine ourselves around Jesus, the SMA Assembly delegates and this SMA community in Rome. Our questions and our worries. Let us think of all our challenges and priorities, of our feared or desired changes. Behind every challenge there are concerns, uncertainties, fears and weaknesses which show that the SMA mission is not simple. Think about your own mission and of the SMA unit you represent.

When an elderly Province or District says that it can no longer bear the burden of SMA mission alone at home and the Society says that it will help the unit to maintain its presence, the feelings of each other are found in this scene from the Gospel: we must provide security and support, as Jesus prepared his disciples to change, “do not be worried.” He shows his affection for them, “you believe in God, believe also in me.” Maybe the older units would like to hear younger ones say, “We are reliable, and you are precious to us.” They can live without this affection and find it elsewhere, among them, their families and their communities. But the one who left everything and risked everything to follow Jesus in the SMA in Africa needs love with the happiness of old age in the same SMA.

Let us avoid exclusion

In my father’s house many will find their abode. We SMA like to build houses but the text talks of divisions in the community. Everyone thinks they are right, just like us “salvation or the solution to this or that problem is to do as we do or to do as we say.

Jesus said that there are differences that are compatible because “in my Father’s house there are many rooms.” It is not necessary that all the disciples think alike. But we have a common reference: Jesus is the revelation of the Father and love and service are the link that binds communities. This applies to our SMA communities.

Jesus goes and will come again

Jesus bids farewell, he says he will make us a place and will come back to take us with him. He wants us to be with him forever. The return that Jesus speaks is the coming of the Spirit whom Jesus will send to help us live as Jesus lived.

– “It’s not complicated, he told them, you know the way.”

– “How can you say this is not complicated, said Thomas, when we do not even know where you’re going!

– “But Thomas, I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Yes, it is clear that to go to the Father we must go through Jesus. We find the image of the lost sheep. I think of the houses in Republic of Benin, always surrounded by a fence. Sometimes the fence is broken down, in ruins, but one does not step over; one has to go through the gate. We also, as a structure, have certain norms that define the space in which we live our vocation which we must respect. This fence is our land, our heritage, an area of the church and the world our Founder, Bishop de Brésillac, gave us. This is the path that our fathers have gone, this is our path, the “Way of Jesus.

In the SMA we feel loved

SMA is not only a structure in which we live our vocation; in our Society we have many witnesses of God who have shaped our lives and have made us identify strongly with this missionary family. Why in the SMA? Because in SMA we feel loved and whenever we are loved we are also illuminated. Without it we would not be here today.

Think of our ministry, what a gift from God!

Think of our ministry: What a huge responsibility when we look at men, women, children who, inspired by the Spirit, not by us, hear our words and interpret our actions as the way, the truth and the light and the warmth of God in their lives.

Let us give thanks to God around Eucharistic table for all these graces!