We now present some points and stimuli which may help us in our reflection upon what we Comboni Missionaries are called to do today, where we place ourselves and with whom we wish to share our missionary vocation.
The Spirit, in giving us St Daniel Comboni and his missionary charism, guides us on two fronts:
- A profound experience of God and the sequela Christi.
- The service of our brothers and the world, through a particular ministry.
Declaring Comboni a saint requires us to live his spirituality but also to follow lines of the missionary methodology outlined by him, developed and made present in the lives of so many confreres and in the history of the Institute.
We now present some points and stimuli which may help us in our reflection upon what we Comboni Missionaries are called to do today, where we place ourselves and with whom we wish to share our missionary vocation. In other words, what is specific to us as Comboni Missionaries? Again, given that it is said that “everything is mission”, to what degree can we continue to want to be present in all fields? And, if this is not possible, which are the fields which must be preferred by the Comboni charism?
a) Whom do we proclaim?
The Spirit of the Lord leads peoples to “an encounter with the person of Christ and his message and to enter the new People of God” (RL 56).
As Comboni Misionaries we are called to:
1. Live in the world of today and insert ourselves into ever more difficult and demanding human contexts. It is here that we must allow ourselves to be found among the “poorest and most abandoned”, already loved and redeemed by God.
2. Listen to the cry of all humanity, of the poor and the suffering, entering with them into dialogue with a God who became one of us and whom we continually find on our path when we place ourselves among the least.
3. Proclaim Christ and the Kingdom of God: this grafts us on to the one specific mission of the Church which is called to discover the presence and action of God in the world and participate in its transformation to “make all things new”.
- How much “Christ” and how much “myself” is there in my missionary proclamation?
- Let us discover the marvels which the Spirit does around us: let us remember confreres, missionaries, laymen and non-believers who live or have lived working according to the values of the Kingdom.
b) Why do we proclaim?
1. We proclaim in order to fulfil the values of the Kingdom. To discover them in Christ, who invites us to condemn the injustices which eat away at society, calls us to think in a new way, involves us in reconciliation and opens up to humankind horizons of hope in a world of justice and peace (cf. CA ‘97, 111). To proclaim a new heaven and a new earth in commitment to integral human development.
2. Because the mission today is expressed through commitment to justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC), presenting new role models for all (CA ’03, 12, 46). As Comboni Missionaries we are called to prophetic proclamation and condemnation, to the formation of consciences, to education towards peace and justice and to involvement with those who work for justice and peace. The formation of our candidates, too, must take place in stimulating geographic and human contexts, through the contents of justice and peace (CA ’03, 54:3-4).
- To what degree do our personal lifestyle and the lifestyle of our communities reflect the purpose of the mission (the proclamation of the Kingdom and its values)?
- Does what I am doing qualify me as a Comboni Missionary? Why?
c) To whom do we proclaim?
We are sent ad gentes and ad pauperes, preferring first evangelization among human groups in social, cultural, political and economic situations in which the absence of the Christian message and/or of the values of the Kingdom prevent that life of fraternity and freedom which is according to the plan of God and revealed in Jesus Christ.
As Comboni Missionaries we are called to:
1. Proclaim the Good news to the poor (cf. Lk. 14), proclaiming explicitly that salvation is offered to all in Jesus Christ (RL 56, 59). In situations of poverty and death, Christ and the multitude of brothers to love become the only passion of the Comboni Missionary (cf. CA ’03, 34).
2. To share in the lot of humanity. The proclamation of salvation is addressed to all, but the Comboni Missionary, following the example of St Daniel Comboni, is called to proclaim salvation by living out his own missionary charism in human contexts of poverty and the denial of human rights. In the ongoing exodus from himself and his homeland, the Comboni Missionary sets out on a journey together with the peoples to whom he is sent, sharing in their lot and bearing witness to the compassion of the Father for humanity (cf. RL 60).
3. To allow oneself to be converted. The Comboni Missionary proclaims salvation and allows himself to be converted while on a common and constant journey of integral liberation, in full communion with God and the people to whom he is sent (cf. RL 61).
- Let us reflect upon our work and the context in which we are carrying it out. Whom do we address, as missionaries? How much do we really know about them?
- What sort of conversion do we believe is necessary for each of us, for our community and for the Comboni Institute?
d) How do we proclaim?
As Comboni Missionaries we are called to:
1. Bear witness with our life to the explicit proclamation, living the joy of total self-giving, experiencing and sharing the liberating power of the Gospel with the crucified ones of history (cf. CA ’03, 35). The Word of God, read today through the eyes of the poor, helps us to live with them in radical fidelity to the Gospel and to our missionary charism (CA ’03, 52.1).
2. To build up the Church as “the family of God”, leading man to encounter the person of Christ who accompanies him in an adventure of faith. This Church/Family model thus becomes a place of communion, prayer, listening and commitment to the transformation of the world with its structures of oppression and injustice.
3. To give rise to communities which are signs of the Kingdom, apostolic communities where sharing, dialogue, reconciliation and cooperation are lived with courage and commitment, in a lifestyle which presents itself as a possible alternative in a world dominated by selfishness and consumerism.
- In our missionary work, do we feel that we are Comboni Missionaries by the choice of the field of work in which the Institute has placed us? By our methodology? By our lifestyle and type of presence?
- How and to what degree do we feel we are involved with the life and lot of the people with whom we share the proclamation of the Kingdom and its values?
e) Where do we proclaim?
With the missionary passion of Comboni and open to the Spirit who helps us recognize the signs of the times, “we must decide which situations of poverty and abandonment challenge us today and thus requalify our commitments” (CA ’03, 38).
As Comboni Missionaries we are called to:
1. Be missionaries always and everywhere (CA ’03, 41). To be missionaries “ad gentes” or “inter gentes”? It is not an ‘easy’ mission, and neither it is the geographical place that provides this identity. While still maintaining ties of preference for Africa, it is necessary to make a qualitative leap and a change of vision as we feel ourselves called to live always and everywhere in a “state of mission”.
2. To take up the challenges of the mission today. We are called upon to sharpen the focus of our fields of work today (cf. CA ’91, ’97, ’03):
- First evangelization, the ministerial aspects and formation of pastoral agents, social commitment and human betterment, missionary animation of the local Church, the formation of candidates beginning with the challenges of the mission, our lifestyle in solidarity with the poor of the world;
- Openness to new frontiers of human suffering: the slums of great metropolis, refugees and immigrants, minorities and the landless, the youth, street children, the victims of globalisation, institutionalised violence and AIDS victims;
- Islam, now present everywhere, inter-religious dialogue, inculturation, Asia, the continent which challenges us most;
- The new areopagi such as the world of communications, finance and social ethics, involvement in the area of JPIC (CA ’03, 46), human rights, the mission through lobbying and networking.
3. To requalify commitments and personnel. Taking into account the fields and areas listed above, the particular situations of the mission and personnel, each continent, with its provinces, must choose its activities and involvement, requalify its commitments and personnel for the good of the people and the confreres, without pretending to respond to all the challenges that present themselves (cf. Instr. Lab. 2003, 72; AC ’03, 43).
4. To provide ourselves with criteria for choosing (opening or closing) commitments. In choosing commitments we must keep in mind: inhuman social situations of extreme poverty which Comboni defined as “the poorest and most abandoned”, and which still exist today especially in the Southern hemisphere; orientations and dialogue with the universal and local Church; the growth of the local Church towards sufficient, if not total, autonomy; its provisional character as an essential characteristic of our missionary presence; the realistically speaking available personnel and the new vocational geography; openness to new and unusual fields that society presents at the beginning of this third millennium (cf. Instr. Lab. 2003, 70-71; CA ’03, 36).
- What is the meaning of being missionaries ad extra?
- What choices would we like the Institute (or province) to make in order to live out the missionary ad extra charism?
- Let us examine and reflect upon the commitments and involvement within our province. What should we leave out, where should we be more involved, according to the passion and charism of St. Daniel Comboni?