Christ extended his friendship to all, without rejecting anyone. Those who love Christ all across the earth form, in his steps, a large community of friendship. This is called communion. For this reason, they have a contribution to make in healing the wounds of humanity: without wanting to impose themselves, they can promote a globalization of solidarity which excludes no people and no single person.How can each person take part in this?
First Proposal - Join a local praying community
Love one another; by this love all will know that you are my disciples. (John 13:34-35)
On some occasions, such as international meetings, this community of friendship becomes visible. But these events are occasional. In every place, a portion of this large community can be found, even if a very poor one. It is not possible to live faith all by ourselves. Faith is born when there is an experience of communion, when we discover that Christ is the source of an unrestricted unity.
If local communities (also called parishes), groups and chaplaincies were increasingly to become places of friendship! Warm and welcoming places where we support one another, where we are attentive to those who are weak, to foreigners, to people who do not share our ideas...
A suggestion for all: could taking part in Sunday worship, or some other activities as well, even with people you did not choose, enable you to have an experience of communion?
A suggestion for local pastoral leaders: listen to young people; discern and welcome what they can bring to the local community; make older people aware of this.
Second Proposal - Extend friendship beyond the boundaries that limit us
Whatever you do to one of the least, you do to me. (Matthew 25:40)
Jesus was attentive to everyone he met, especially the poor, children, those who seemed unimportant. Following him, we can cross boundaries to join those in need. We can undertake acts of solidarity, together with Christians of different affiliations, and also with people who do not share our faith.
Whether the poverty is material or spiritual, solidarity implies a two-way sharing: in providing assistance, we are often the ones who receive.
A suggestion for all: why not choose, for one year, a situation in the neighborhood and people to whom a presence of friendship could be offered, solidarity be shown: to the outcast, the poor, the ill, those suffering from disabilities, abandoned children, immigrants, the unemployed...?
A suggestion for local pastoral leaders: help young people find situations where solidarity is necessary and possible.
Third Proposal - Share and pray regularly with others
Where two or three are together in my name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:20)
For some young people, painful trials, abandonment, solitude, or the keen awareness of the injustices in the world can make it almost impossible to have faith in God. Believing is always a risk—the risk of trusting.
With whom can I journey and reflect about my faith?
A suggestion for all: rather than staying alone with one’s questions, find a few other people to share with, once a week or once a month. Read together a page of the Gospel or another reading. Pray together with songs, a Bible reading, a long period of silence.
A suggestion for local pastoral leaders: encourage and support these small groups of sharing and prayer; help them to remain open and welcoming to others.
Fourth Proposal - Make the communion among all who love Christ more visible
You are the Body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
In our village, our city and our region, there are people who also love Christ, but in a different way than we do. Calling ourselves “Christians” means bearing the name of Christ. We receive our identity as Christians through baptism, which unites us to Christ. Let us try to give more visibility to this common identity, instead of emphasizing our denominational identities.
When differences appear to be incompatible, that is no reason to separate. During his life, Christ went beyond boundaries and, on the cross, he stretched out his arms from one side to the other, between those who are divided. If Christians want to follow Christ and let God’s light shine in the world, they cannot remain divided. It is the Holy Spirit who unites us.
A suggestion for all: Why not go towards those who are different, another group, another parish, another movement, another denomination, a Christian community of migrants...? We can make visits, let others welcome us, invite them. We can turn together to Christ in a simple prayer, putting ourselves “under one roof” without waiting for everything to be fully harmonized, and in this way we can live in anticipation of full communion.
A suggestion for local pastoral leaders: in pastoral work, do together with Christians of other denominations all that can be done together; do nothing without taking others into account.