FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
UNITY AND PEACE – 9
November 7, 2015
Today’s reading: Romans 16:3-27
We are one body, the body of Christ on earth. He is the head and we are the various members of the body. But the Church of God is not united and not at peace. After a millennium, the West and East split. After another half a millennium, Luther split and the Protestant denominations formed (and are still forming today!). Within our Catholic Church, religious congregations (Franciscans, Carmelites, etc.) have split and re-split. Lay Catholic communities have had many splits. This is the unfortunate reality. If only members of the body truly looked to Jesus, knowing they are “co-workers in Christ Jesus” (v.3b), serving the one Master and the one Church, having the one vision and mission, then there would be unity and peace. But historically it has never been so.
Our Catholic Church is much better off than the Protestant Churches, because we have the Vicar of Christ, the pope, who is the human point of unity in our Church. The Protestants have no such person, and thus each one goes off on his own. Today there are over 40,000 Protestant denominations. Having one person as the focal point of unity of vision and mission increases our chances of bucking the age-old trend of strife and disunity.
So we come to our own community. CFC suffered a major split in 2007. But even now as CFC-FFL, there are still tensions and conflicts. What can help to attain unity and peace? It is to look to the representative of Christ, to the person designated by the Holy Spirit to found the community. The founder is the one entrusted with the charism, which he shares with all those who join the community. In 2007, major leaders veered away from the vision of the founder, specifically, removing Christ from our work with the poor. The split was the result.
It is the founder who has the charism and who has the vision as given to him by God. For CFC and now CFC-FFL, our vision and mission is evangelization founded on family renewal. Family renewal is founded on the work of evangelization, as couples and families need to be brought to Christ first. Then the work of evangelization is sustained by renewed families. This progression is actually reflected in our Core Values. Our first Core Value is Centered on Christ, our second Core Value is Evangelistic and Missionary, and our third Core Value is Focused on the Family. First, Christ and becoming like Christ; second, evangelization, proclaiming Christ; and third, family, strengthening it and looking to the generations to come.
Thus, like Paul, I point you first to Jesus, then I share the vision, mission and charism given to me, as I look to you to be my co-workers in evangelization. “Now to him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ” (v.25a). It is Christ who saves and strengthens us, and he has entrusted to me as founder the proclamation of that good news, which is the very charism of CFC/CFC-FFL. This is evangelization. In fact, this is about massive evangelization, especially now in response to the call to the New Evangelization. Jesus came to save all. Now he uses his disciples to bring that salvation to the ends of the earth. I have written many articles and books on what our vision and mission is. This is all in obedience to what I believe God desires, and why God allowed me to found this community. Our direction ought to be clear, “now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith” (v.26).
How, contrary to the experience of the Church through two millennia, including CFC, do we maintain unity and peace? Look to the founder and the vision and mission that he has already made clear. CFC split in 2007 because other top leaders veered away from the clear direction. This is an ongoing danger, as leaders look not to the founder but to their own vision and desires. When such leaders insist on their own directions, this is what creates disunity, strife and division. “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned” (v.17a). My vision and teachings are clear enough. They are there written down in From the SG articles and many books. This is how the Holy Spirit helps me guide the people He has called to do a particular work, our work.
Those who oppose such direction or teachings are no longer serving Christ, at least not in the way Jesus has called our community. “For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites” (v.18a). Is it Christ we follow? Then would we not follow the one he designated to found and lead the community? So Paul has a simple directive: “avoid them.” (v.17b). No, we will not exclude them from the community, but avoid their gossip and maligning and negative speech that cause you to question our direction. Indeed there are those dissidents who “by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent.” (v.18b). If you have a question or a doubt, ask me directly. I have said from long ago that I am just an email away.
You have been giving of yourselves, you have been serving, you have been making sacrifices. But know that as God uses us more and more, then the enemy also intensifies his assault. And what better way to derail the work than to foment dissent inside the community? Do not give the enemy the opportunity! “For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil” (v.19).
Then we can experience unity and peace. Then we can blunt the deceptions of the evil one. “Then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet.” (v.20a).
We have much to do. If you believe you have been called to CFC-FFL, then learn what our work is, and that is learning the vision of the founder and obeying the mission that God, through the founder, sends you to do. Read and think and pray about all the From the SG articles and the founder’s books. The enemy will always try to bring about disunity and strife, for that is the way to blunt our work, and even destroy our community. The enemy almost succeeded in 2007. The enemy is certainly continuing to try. And with us poised to do truly massive evangelization, the enemy will likewise intensify his evil designs. Do not provide him the opening.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” (v.20b). Let us go forth in unity and peace, and accomplish the mission given to us, so that “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (v.27).
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