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Marist Bulletin - Number 269


Marist Blog: Biblical metaphor (Br. Luis Sobrado)

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The section “Marist blogs” of our site www.champagnat.org, set up last May, presents some subjects of reflection that merit the interest of the readers. We thought that they would also merit the attention of the readers of the Bulletin.
Today we gather here some reflections from Brother Luis García Sobrado, Vicar General. In sending these texts we are trying to animate you to join the reflexion by sending your comments through our web page.

A new song (Psalm 97)

I have just finished a week of leading a workshop on “The Marist mission today” at Davao in the Philippines.
The first group of brothers to volunteer for the Mission Ad Gentes in Asia are revving the motors. Three months more and they will find themselves in an Asian country, juggling new sounds and alphabets in the language centres of their brain, making direct contact with cultures thousands of years old, full of wisdom and meaning of life.
We divided ourselves without ceasing: in groups, in open workshops, in prolonged discussions, in interviews, in the small hours of the tepid mornings of Davao and in the humidity of the nights of the tropical rain, vigorous, total and sonorous. The conversation invaded the soul and spirit. The course of our lives converged in an unexpected fashion in moments of grace before melting us in the deep ocean of a new being and doing, of the unexpected and the totally new.
My heart was moved in listening to the questions that took time to emerge: In what country will I be in January? What will be our mission, our apostolate? Who will form the community in this possible country? Where are we going to start? Where are we going to be situated? What type of mode of living? Will we be among the poor in tribal and rural zones or in the well-populated suburbs of these urban zones where people and motorcycles merge with the horizon? They were the questions of the soul.
But, more profound were the questions of the spirit. Where is the hand of the Good God leading us at this time in our history? Why do I feel full of peace amidst all these unknowns? Why is my heart on fire? Why doesn’t it matter if I am given Bangladesh or Indonesia rather than Thailand or Uzbekistan? How has it happened that God continues to be so good, so full of tenderness, so full of details for me and for the Institute? Why am I falling in love with the Church, the village of God, as I have never felt for such a long time?
And in prayer arose the necessity to sing a new song.
Psalm 97 invites us to that.
It is a psalm that is strongly inspired by psalm 46, firstly, and then by psalm 95: nearly identical language and style. But something new appears in 97 that precisely defines this newness: the Good God shows us his presence in a real way, he makes us experience his delicate love, he makes us enter into the dynamic of his steadfast fidelity: memory, love and renewed fidelity. There is there the new song.
The Magnificat takes up this new song with its inimitable accents that are born of this soul and spirit of Mary: virgo fidelis.
Many Marists today, brothers and laypeople, experience in a growing manner the necessity to begin a new song in our soul, in our spirit, but especially in our lives and our concrete missions. Davao has entered into this current of inspiration.
I ask the Good Mother that all the Marists, wherever we are, break into singing this new song. That with her we may make it arise in our daily life: “My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!”

Inscribed tears (Psalm 55,9)

It is enough that you close your eyes and cry in silence: tears! Your heart will be inundated with faces transformed by intense feelings: profound joy and unspeakable suffering; shared love and irreparable disappointment; infinite sadness and overflowing happiness; absolute confidence and irreconcilable fear.
Thus were the tears of Jesus. His were those of compassion and tenderness when he saw Mary crying at Bethany. He cried, full of compassion, with the widow at Naïm who was accompanying her only son to the tomb: certainly he wondered, as many of us have done, how life could be so hard for some people. Frustrated, disappointed, nearly beaten, he cried over Jerusalem, his beloved city. With tears and groaning full of fear – he asked God if he could be delivered from the shame of public judgement, abandonment and a painful solitude, from a violent death.
Tears so noble, so beautiful, so full of dignity and tenderness cannot be lost in the oblivion of history or in the indifference of people or in the preoccupation of the urgent. We sense that it must be thus each time that we reassure ourselves and that we recall who is important in life: people whom we love and who are no longer with us now; especially the people whom we love and for whom we cry.
Psalm 55, one of the responsorial psalms in the latter weeks of September, consoles us and delicately perfects our religious sentiment.
“You accompany me Lord, in each step of my errant life;
You collect each of my tears in the amphora of your heart;
You write them in your book of life.”
To think that God has my tears inscribed in his book moves me. I can only continue in his hand with a humble perseverance, seeking with tears of joy the light of his face. At the hour of hardship, at the hour of fears that paralyse me without remission, I feel the strength of the hand of God which calls me to a certain victory.

The hands of Jesus

During the last weeks of the liturgical reading of the Gospel of Matthew, I was invited on at least two occasions to consider the hands of Jesus. Jesus touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law and her fever suddenly subsided. Jesus took the hand of the child, who seemed dead, and the child woke up with his touch. Prompted by this invitation, I frequently tried to consider the hands of Jesus: blessed hands who cure all that they touch, blessed hands who console those that they lightly touch. Blessed hands of this good, simple, humble of heart man. The man and God.
Saint Marcellin was inspired by the hands of the Child Jesus:
“He extends his little hands to us and invites us to go to him, not so much for sharing with us his poverty but to fill us with his goodness and graces.” Life, Brother Jean-Baptiste, 1989 edition, p 330)
“Nothing more loving than a child: his innocence, his simplicity, his gentleness, his caresses and his weakness are capable of touching and winning the hardest of hearts.” (Ibid)
Ah, if I could, Virgin Mary, have his hands in my hands!
Ah, if I could, Virgin of the Dawn, touch his hands, touch them lightly!
Ah, if I could hold my hands open as a cross for my brothers!
Hands of Jesus, made of concerned compassion,
Adroit hands for purifying my soul with such ardour
Sad and solitary, breaking my indolence,
So that I can otherwise sing my sorrows.
Hands of Jesus, open to every wound,
I try, uncertain, to seize them faltering on my journey,
Full of worries, they will alleviate my torments.
Every desire broken, they will calm my quarrels.
Hands of Jesus that caress with tenderness,
You indicate a direction in my obscure night.
Scarcely touching my cracked lips.
Feeling their simple delicate contact
Fills me with joy and living hope:
Only then will I be the witness of so much love.

In Haste (Luke, 1,39)

Mary went in haste, bringing us the gift of God.
All these years, clinging to his arms! And still I do not know how to make him known and loved.
Lord, hurry up. See how the time is passing. (Psalm 69 / 70)
To love, to love, I love you.
But ah! I do not know how to love.
Love us!

A blog that invites you to contemplative prayer

The Bible contains an infinity of metaphors. No psalm or book in the Bible is lacking in them. The passages of Holy Scripture where you do not find them are rare. That is because we need to speak to God and to speak about God.
They help us to discover our hidden notions.
In the metaphor, the literal expression contains many meanings, rich in their contents and their resonance that is forever new. There are Marist metaphors which mark the different stages of the life of a brother and of a layperson, according to his or her culture and the circumstances of his or her life. They go straight to the heart with a renewed strength and they give a new meaning to our journey. It is worth remembering some of them: brothers of Mary, the three violets, the Good Mother, the Little Brothers, the Montagnes of today, etc.
In this blog we will be treating biblical metaphors and not Marist metaphors.
So that a biblical metaphor touches our heart and gives us its spiritual meaning, we need a certain discipline. This discipline allows us to establish a daily rhythm of reflection, of religious study, of meditation, of lectio divina. It is a matter of the rhythm of the Marist apostle where the service of children and of young people is strengthened and increases in depth and in intensity, and is renewed in the fervour with and in prayer. It is a life discipline that opens us to the gift of peace of heart, to the renewed commitment to his call that God makes to us each day.
There are metaphors in the Scriptures that reveal their contents only when we start to read them with the eyes of the heart and under the questioning looks of poor young people and children. In order to open ourselves to this revelation, we need to be enlightened by the light of forgiveness and of reconciliation with our brothers and sisters. Their deepest meaning shows forth only when we commit ourselves to serving the one who is hungry and thirsty for justice.
We cannot force biblical metaphors. The disciplines of time, of life, of study and of service are the spaces where the heart of God is revealed to us. This revelation needs spaces and time for God. Our art consists of accentuating our listening and purifying our vision. And it is sure that, as the dawn of each day, the heart of God will appear in each metaphor, day after day.
I discover it by preference in the readings that the Church – mother and teacher – gives us in small doses through the daily liturgy: a first reading which contains some verses from the Old Testament or from the New Testament, a responsorial psalm and a passage from the Gospels.
In this blog, I propose to share, every two weeks, one of the metaphors that has illumined my life and enlightened my heart.
As in every blog, I hope to cause some comment, an exchange of metaphors and suggestions. It will help us perhaps to grow in faith and in the art of contemplation.
And if we do so with a little bit of style and poetic sense, that would be even better.

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