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WELCOME TO LOURDES IPOH

MESSAGE FOR THE YEAR 2019 THEME: FRATERNITY

For the past years, we have been focusing on themes namely prayer and compassionate and selfless service as we mobilize our parish. Themes or rather focuses are necessary for parish because they serve as:

  1. Christian Guiding Principles,
  2. Points for Self-Examination and Self-Reflection,
  3. Aid to rejuvenate our Christian Commitment to be a focused Community.

Basically, themes help to form community in a systematic and holistic manner!

 

For the year 2019 we will focus on the theme; “Fraternity”. Our parish will not only keep this theme in focus through prayer but also will endeavour to create fraternal environment for our communities. The word “Fraternity” has a strong biblical basis while closely linked with the word koinōnia in Acts 2:42. After the Pentecost event, it is said that “they (the people) devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles and to the communal life (koinōnia), to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42). In fact, the depth of the word koinōnia in the New Testament is deeper than Fraternity. We know that the best way of understanding a word is to understand it within its own language. We lose the meaning of a word when we translate it into another language. However, in this article I would use words like “Fraternity, Communion, Oneness, Togetherness or Solidarity” to represent the meaning of Koinōnia.

 

Acts 2:42 represents the basis of our Christian Community living. It is interesting to note that this verse is situated in the context of the Pentecost. Luke, the evangelist has intentionally framed this verse within the context of the Pentecost for he sees community living as a part of the Pentecostal aftereffect. Not only that, it is the Spirit that brings us together. In this way, the prayer of Jesus, “that they may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21), comes to a fulfilment at Pentecost. Often in our reading of the Pentecost event, we tend to focus too much on the gifts of tongue (charism) to the point of discounting the importance of community living. Probably, it is because of our strong inclination towards supernatural phenomena and our wanting to be more than human; supra-human endowed with supernatural gifts. In fact, we have even conveniently bypass the results of the Pentecost depicted in the boldness of Peter’s preaching (Evangelism) and the call to live as in Acts 2:42. In the context of the Acts of the Apostles, with the coming of the Spirit, we are endowed with Charism, Evangelism and Communion. This healthy tension elasticized in between them puts forth a needed balance. Those who discount one for the other are certainly doing injustice to the movement of the Spirit.

 

As we focus on this theme; fraternity (koinōnia), we are called not only to live this value but also to evangelize using this value. It is the value of the Pentecostal Spirit that came down on the Apostles. In our local context, fraternity (koinōnia) can be expressed in the following
manner:

Fraternity within Family. Values such as love, care, fraternal relationship and communal living should be inculcated in the homes. Some of our problems are due to lack of love and fraternal relationship in the homes. For this reason, Pope Francis speaks out saying, “Families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to
love.”

Fraternity with the Christian Community in our neighbourhood. This fraternity is reflected in our coming together for prayer during the wake (funeral) or on any other special occasions.

Fraternity with those who are sick, ill or those who need our support. This solidarity can be within our neighbourhood groups (BEC) or even beyond our BEC boundaries. We can be in fraternity with them through our acts of kindness.

Fraternity with the Poor and the Unfortunate. We should keep the poor close to the heart. We extend our generosity as a reflection of our koinōnia (solidarity) with the them. This solidarity with the poor is better reflected in the words of Pope Francis, “Fraternity, a gift and task that comes from God the Father, urges us to be in solidarity against inequality and poverty that undermine the social fabric, to take care of every person, especially the weakest and most defenseless, to love him or her as oneself, with the very heart of Jesus Christ.” (July 31, 2013)

Fraternity during the Sunday Worship. Sunday is the Lord’s Day. It is a day of Resurrection. Jesus after his resurrection went about gathering his scattered disciples. That gathering of the scattered is koinōnia. It is this koinōnia we are celebrating on every Sunday.

Fraternity during the Feast Day Celebration. As we celebrate our feast days in the parish and in our chapels, we need to put forth our expressions of koinōnia. These feast days’ celebrations should be a reflection of our Oneness.

Fraternity Projects. There are more than 120 various organizations in this parish. There is a need to build good rapport and relationship within and among these groups. We should plan and organize good activities that can make us grow in solidarity with one another.

Fraternity and Evangelization. We are duty-bound to witness and proclaim Christ in this broken world. Our community should be a model of fraternity. We should reach out to people from different walks of life by engaging and dialoging with them. This will give us an opportunity to bring koinōnia-values to them.

 

As the year 2019 awaits us, let us open our hearts and minds to the working of the Spirit. May the Spirit not only inspire us with gifts and charism but bring us together in witnessing to the prayer of Jesus, “May they be One” (John 17:21).

 

May Our Lady of Lourdes pray for us.

 

Fr. Robert Daniel Francis