Letter of October, 2014

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At a certain point in the Gospel, Jesus reproaches the men of his time for not being able to read the signs of God’s presence in history in the natural world. (Lk 12, 54-59)  Vatican II in the Pastoral Constitution about the Church in the contemporary world also speaks of the signs of the times and the need to read history ‘theologically.’ (Gaudium et Spes, 4)  God does not speak to everyone directly, but through the events both of history and of each person’s life. He does not necessarily speak through the great events that are extraordinary in their occurrence and consequences, but above all through the small things that make up everyone’s daily life.
 
At the recent International College of the Teams of Our Lady at Medway, near Boston in the United States, the inspirational text of Jesus’ visit to Martha and Mary (Lk 10, 38-42) was examined in depth.  The sisters welcomed the Lord, with Martha looking after the house, while Mary, seated at Jesus’ feet, listened to the Word of Jesus.  During the visit, Martha came to ask Jesus to tell her sister to help her.  Jesus’ reply was, as always, surprising:  
 
Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.
 
What is the better thing that Mary chose and that will not be taken away from her?  The fact of being seated at Jesus’ feet and listening to his Word.  The two sisters represent all of us and they are an image of the Church.  The Church today which is in the midst of so many ordeals and each one of us, individually or as couples, must deal with a large number of tasks and many problems.  Couples and families ought to be places where the Lord is welcomed, where his Word is listened to, where secondary things are not a priority and even if they are dealt with, they ought not to get in the way of what is essential.
 
Pope Francis has convened the bishops for a special synod to discuss the family today.  It is a challenge to read the signs of the times where couples and families in the Church and in the world are concerned.  There are many negative signs that impact the dignity of couples and the family, signs that are contrary to the ‘principle’ and to ‘the mind of God’ about couples and the family.  It is important for each of us, as couples, as a family to listen to the Gospel of the family, just like Mary did, seated at Jesus’ feet.
 
Dear Couples, do not be afraid to be in sync with the Church’s feelings in these complex and troubled times that we live in, where we really need, like Mary, to hear the Word of the Lord and where we need to be ready to work for the cause of couples and Christian families in the world, who are an essential part of the Church and society.  Be courageously faithful to the philosophy of our Movement, a gift and a charism that the Lord gave to the Church and which is so necessary today just like it was back then at its origins.   Let us seek together, just like then, ways to be faithful to the Gospel and to the Church, so that everyone, Spiritual Counselors and couples, can walk and advance towards holiness, because it is in this way that the ‘only thing’, ‘what is better’ will never be taken from us.
 
P. José Jacinto Ferreira de Farias, scj
Conseiller Spirituel de l’Equipe Responsable Internationale