The Church is a sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God in each baptized person who assumes his or her mission as a Christian (Mt 5.14). Thus, aware of the mission we have received, we are called to continue our pastoral services by other possible means. In our time, the message of the Word of God can reach families through the media. The daily experience of faith and mutual love in our homes constitutes a privileged form of Christian witness. The Christian faith, lived daily in its essential elements, generates a look at reality, the possibility of seeing the face of the God who is a kind Father.
The experience of God in times of epidemics at the time of Saint Vincent de Paul, in the 17th century, was expressed and concretized in contemplative action in favor of the poor: “If a Sister goes ten times a day to see the poor, she will find God ten time. In serving the poor, we serve Jesus Christ.” In our pandemic days, charitable ministry is a means of reaching out to the poor and practicing zeal for caring for life. Apostolic zeal is a fundamental virtue for the missionary. Leaving ourselves to find the brother or sister, we can dialogue without the clash of ideologies, find those who feel alone, and make our homes houses of prayer. However, our pastoral ministry will undergo changes that will transform the way we act inside and outside the Church. Looking at the time that has passed, we realize how agitated we were, with rapid meetings that lack both principles and pastoral discernment.
On this missionary journey, we realize that we need more time to care for our neighbor and to review some outdated structures that do not conform to reality. It is true that these days cause us to reflect on our forms of evangelization, inviting us to be more contemplative with the people of God. We are called to discover the value of each human person: “Where is your brother?” (Gn 4,9) The Church is the space in which we are all called in Christ Jesus to seek holiness. In this sense, the followers of Jesus, through respect, dialogue, care for the Common House, “the mission that God has entrusted to all of us” (Querida Amazonia, 20), and a deep conversion to Christ. Jesus affirms: “In this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another ” (Jn 13:35).
Human, religious, cultural, social, political and environmental challenges affect everyone in the mission. The process of reflection needs to be carried out in the light of a mysticism rooted in Christian spirituality. More than ever, it is necessary to think about how to be a sign of authentic authority in a world strongly marked by corruption and the search for false lights. The philosopher Giorgio Agamben affirms that the contemporary person is the one who knows how to see the darkness and not the one who darkens with false lights. Therefore, the ethical foundation of authority must be the sacred territory of otherness and the discipleship of healing. The words of the Holy Gospel point in this direction and invite us to attitudes of solidarity and care for people who have nothing, that is, who need a care that will comfort them in their lives. “Those who enjoy this world do not pay attention to it, because the appearance of this world passes by” (1 Cor 7,31).
Mons. Fernando Barbosa dos Santos, CM
Bishop of the Prelature of Tefé, Brazil.