21 May Proclaim the Gospel & Offer Peace | Homily at the Beginning of the Meeting with Presidents of Conferences
On 21 May 2019, the meeting of the Presidents of the Conferences of the Order began at the General Curia in Rome. The gathering started with Lauds and the celebration of the Eucharist presided by the Vicar General, Julio Bunader.
The day continued with the sharing of the participants with each one concentrating on the needs and challenges to the life of brotherhood and minority in the Entities of their Conferences. The Conference Presidents will have a chance to hear the Minister General’s report along with other reports and discussions. The meeting will continue until Friday, 24 May.
Br. Julio César Bunader, ofm
The Liturgy of the Word offers us TWO ASPECTS of our faith, which I consider essential for us today as we begin the meeting of the General Definitory with the Presidents of Conferences. The first: PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL, and the second: OFFER THE PEACE OF JESUS.
1) The Acts of the Apostles (Acts 14:19-28) relates the first missionary journey of Paul, accompanied by Barnabas, in which they had to face difficulties, aware that “we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God” (v.22). At all times they dedicated themselves to “preaching the Good News and making disciples” (v. 21). This is the first aspect: PREACHING THE GOSPEL; proclaim the word (see v.24), the Good News of Jesus (Acts 8:35). That is, to proclaim with life and deeds, their faith in the action of God in Jesus (Acts 14:15-16) and to spread the joy of the Resurrection.
Paul and Barnabas spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and present themselves as instruments filled with the Spirit. Based on this preaching, communities are organised at the institutional level. Therefore “In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe” (v. 23), so that they may be guardians of the brothers (cfr. Acts 20:28). As disciples, we are asked to “strongly feel the hunger and thirst for the gospel that is in the world, especially in the heart and flesh of the poor.” To “approach them, serve them, free them from their oppression, and all this in the name and with the Spirit of Christ, because he is the Gospel of God “(Pope Francis, Angelus 24-01-16).
2) The Gospel of John (Jn 14, 27-31) insists on the second aspect of THE PEACE OF JESUS: “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (v. 27). Jesus presents an alternative, offering a different peace to the world’s understanding of it. He confers a new sense and meaning to the word peace, because he refers to his own person, as the Apostle Paul recognises: “he is our peace” (Eph 2:14).
Jesus introduces a distinction, between the peace he offers and the peace of the world. The peace imposed by the “prince of this world” (v. 30) is not authentic, because it is based on violence, violence that caused the death of Christ; and it is a facade because it hides divisions. True peace is not a balance of opposing forces. The Peace of Jesus Christ does not claim the imposition of power, nor does it require conflict or war. Jesus is abundance of life for all people, equally and with total freedom. That peace, offered to all people, is the fruit of communion with the Triune God and brings about communion among people.
Brothers let us renew our beautiful Christian and Franciscan vocation to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christand to offer/make Peace, the gift of the Risen One and the joy of the disciple (cfr. Jn 20:19-23), because we have been called and sent by God to evangelise (cfr. CCGG Chapter V).