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The call to preach the gospel in community
Fr. Gerard Timoner, OP, Provincial of the Dominican Order in the Philippines, gave a recollection to the members of the Elders Assembly of CFC last January 11, 2015 at the SM Aura. Top leaders from Metro Manila, the provinces and overseas came to listen to Fr. Gerard talk about “The call to preach the gospel in community”.

The entire recollection was centered on the Gospel according to Matthew Chapter 10, which talks about the mission and commissioning of the 12 apostles.

On Mission
Fr. Gerard highlighted the words "summoned" and "sent"—two different movements of Christ’s followers. According to him, discipleship (the character of one summoned) and apostleship (the character of one sent) are interrelated but not the same. Discipleship is the never-ending process of being a student of Jesus. But after learning, a disciple is sent by the Lord to proclaim the Good News (apostleship).

Fr. Gerard also focused on the word “and”, signifying the gesture of sending missionaries in pairs, two by two, just as CFC is sending couples on mission. Why two by two? Because at the heart of the Gospel is the Gospel of Love and thus the pair are called to preach the Gospel and to exemplify and witness to its truth through the love they bear for each other.

“How can we preach love if we do not live it?” Fr. Gerard asked. He illustrated marriage as a sacrament, a sign that points to the love of Christ for the Church. In the Philippines, the marriage rite includes the ceremony of putting the couple under one veil. This is uniquely By the CFC Global Comm Filipino and highly symbolic. The veil is a symbol of worship. Hence, a couple’s conscious decision to live together in love is an act of worship.

God’s call is personal, but all are also called to community. To live together in community, in love and fidelity, is an apostolate. The ideal community bonds together not just for the mission. Being together is already part of the mission—living together in unanimity of mind and heart.

Fr. Gerard added, “Part of this is obedience to God’s will. Disobedience leads to disintegration.” He further said that obedience is about listening, and listening emanates from the principle of unity. Listening also means to hear what is not being said.

“When we listen attentively to one another, we maintain unity. Otherwise, division would ensue.” Fr. Gerard added, “But more importantly, we need to develop that capacity to listen even in silence. The bottom line is, we ask ourselves: ‘Is it the good of the entire community that I am after, or is it my own personal goal that I am seeking?’

Fr. Gerard quoted an excerpt from The Pearl of Great Price, CFC’s commemorative book on the occasion of its 30th anniversary: “When human wisdom would have dictated a more aggressive, iron-fisted approach, the International Council asked the global community to be still and to pray. 

When corporate leaders would have resorted immediately to sacking errant leaders, the IC repeatedly sought dialogue and reconciliation. Against all human expectations, the quiet prayerful approach proved to be more effective.

The community, affirmed and guided by the succeeding annual themes, chose to love and then to move forward in Christ.” As Fr. Gerard explained, this gesture not only showed the capacity to listen to one another, but more importantly, to listen to Christ. It meant not following like a slave, but having the capacity to listen to one another. It is not listening to the majority, but practicing unanimity.

“Truth and community are inseparable,” Fr. Gerard said. “We need to possess that spirit—to listen to ideas other than our own. The unity of the community is the presence of Jesus. If that unity is fractured, then we compromise the presence of Jesus in our midst.”

Fr. Gerard explained that the term “Shake the dust off your feet…” from the second part of the Gospel on the commissioning of the 12, does not mean, as is generally understood, to walk away and have nothing further to do with the ones we seek to evangelize.

Rather, it refers to the state of our own hearts. As he said, when we evangelize, we first have to get rid of our own painful and toxic memories, we first have to learn to forgive because “if we are carrying the Good News, bad news has no place in the heart of the one who carries the Good News.”

Fr. Gerard stressed, “That is why Pope Francis reminds us to pay attention to the joy of the gospel. No to sour-faced Christians; the gospel should be alive and light up the room.” 

Finally, Fr. Gerard reminded the CFC Elders Assembly that a happy community is a communion of good forgivers.

“Your theme is love more. And when we love, imperfections become perfect.”

Before the prayer for empowerment, Fr. Gerard reminded everyone, “Do not allow disagreements to distract you from the good you do. Shake the dust off your feet.” He added, “Is it easy to do? No. That is why Jesus did it for the 12. He took a basin and washed the feet of the disciples. If we find it difficult to shake off the dust, we go to Jesus: ‘Please wash my feet. Again, we can only forgive if we engage God’s forgiveness within our own.’” (Alma Alvarez)
Added on Friday, February 27, 2015


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