Fire Exists by Burning!

Our recent meeting with the General Council gave us a new impetus on intercultural concerns and some practical guidelines to solidify the real value of witness to the universality and openness to diversity of the kingdom of God. In Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) no. 27, Pope Francis says he dreams of a “missionary option” and calls us to move away from “conservation mode.”
Our Congregation is experiencing interculturality with great interest but this process is not simple, living together with confreres from different cultures, different ways of thinking, and ways of acting. In concrete guidelines towards a spirituality of Interculturality I am very much taken up by “Kenosis” which means “emptying out” and anyone who wants to welcome a confrere from another culture must undergo a similar process of emptying out, which involves freedom, openness, availability to others and a universal perspective. It is important to understand others’ behavior in the context of their culture without cultural prejudices and polarized communication.
Our Founder said that the Servants of Charity have no particular homeland because, “the whole world is [their] homeland.” An un-missionary religious life does not belong to the Church. The body not broken for the life of the world is not the body of Christ. Emil Brunner stated “the Church/ Religious exists by mission as fire exists by burning.”
Many of us excuse ourselves by saying that we need to work amongst “our own,” which covers up our insecurity of encountering the real world that offers evangelizing possibilities. Let us take seriously the Guanellian phrase “The whole world is your homeland” and be a border-crossing person: across cultures, religions, gender, ability for inter-contextual conversation. The interculturality should be taken care from the very moment of our initial formation, intentionally promoted, carefully cared for and attentively nurtured.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

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