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The paths of the General Chapter

13/01/2011: General House

The fundamental call proposes Mary to us in the haste of the Visitation, in the steps of the first Christian mission. Rich in the treasure named Jesus, heart transformed into a sanctuary of Jesus, Mary takes the road of humanity. There is the fourth new land: others, mankind, humanity. This land is also familiar to us already and yet it still presents something new every day, with its unknowns, its new dawns, its unexpected storms: land of life. Mary already knows the family of Zachary and Elisabeth, and yet there is something new in this family, a child waiting to leap with joy at the voice of her who carries the Lord in her womb. Land of others to meet with the newness of Jesus and a renewed heart. Land from which new calls, new challenges come to us, demanding new generosity: missions faraway or near to which to go in haste with Mary.The General Chapter Document, on page 22, is also explicit about the new lands: « Realize that the idea of going out to a new land carries some implications: sharing the reponsibility for mission, giving priority to evangelization, giving preference to the poor and least favoured, and transmitting the Marist charism to a new generation of educators. » The document Water from the Rock, in paragraph 149, also tells us: « This experience urges us to move ahead, with courage and apostolic zeal to difficult missions to marginalsed areas, and unexplored surroundings, where the seed of the Kingdom has not yet taken root. » Many of the themes of the Chapter Document echo those of Water from the Rock.This « new land » requires us to move inwards and outwards. All these new lands hold something unknown, mysterious, surprising; they require, therefore, a heart that is disposable, generous, like that of the Virgin who said Yes. The woman we are asked to look at is the one of the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Magnificat, the one who listened to the Word, said Yes, went out on mission and sang her joy. Mary, first missionary of Christ, takes up in her steps all our missions too. Marcellin Champagnat, who sent out the first Marist missionaries to leave for new lands, teaches us to have confidence in the Good Mother, our Ordinary Resource, and make her the patroness of all our missions.Abraham, on the way to a new land, became the father of all who believe and the ancestor of a people as numerous as the sand of the sea and the stars of the sky. The people of Israel knew the roads of exile which led them to new lands. In those lands, they received the gift of the great prophets and their faith was purified and deepened. It was in exile that they were promised « a new heart and a new spirit ».Mary hastening to a new mission causes chants of joy and hears for the first time her Son called Lord, or, even better, « my Lord ». This is the typical cry of Christian faith; every Christian says of Jesus that he is « his Lord ».The Magi, guided by the star, finish their journey at the feet of Jesus on his mother’s knees. To him they offer gold, incense and myrrh, gifts which describe the nature of the child: he is king, God, man. In Jesus they find the new way of their life. On this new way they return home, setting out on a whole new future.God makes a rendez-vous with our family in these « new lands », lands of grace, life and future. « Mary, our good Mother, accompanies us with tenderness and sensitivity. May she bless each one of us. » (Br. Emili Turu, S.G. Presentation of the Document of the XXI General Chapter.A song of Jaca Book, Leave your land and go, expresses this idea of a new land well. He asks Abraham, then the apostles, and finally us:What you are leaving, you know well enough,But what is your God going to give you?And the respectives replies are:A people, a land, and a promise.The word of Yahweh (for Abraham).The hundredfold here, and eternity.The Word of Jesus (for the apostles).What you carry is worth more.Go and preach the Good News.The Word of Jesus (for us).__________H. Giovanni Bigotto

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