Our missionary vocation demands that we immerse ourselves in the his-torical journey of peoples. This fact makes us face challenges that require us to live in a state of ongoing renewal, in an effort of contextualizing our work and of projecting ourselves into the future.

Our missionary vocation demands that we immerse ourselves in the his-torical journey of peoples. This fact makes us face challenges that require us to live in a state of ongoing renewal, in an effort of contextualizing our work and of projecting ourselves into the future.
The future appears to us as a “Kairós” which, while on one side makes us “re-invent” ourselves, on the other it asks us to return to the original fidelity to and creativity of our charism. All this invites us not to remain stuck to past schemes, but, instead, to be always open to in-depth changes.

1. A sense of belonging: children or slaves?
St. Paul reminds us that we can live as “slaves” or as “children” (Rm 8: 14-17; Gal 4:1-11). If we analyze with healthy realism the situation in our Insti-tute, we note that some of us live “as children,” namely they “feel at home,” while others live “as slaves,” as if the Institute were not their family. This is the source of many conflicts, frustration, lack of interest, acquies-cence, desertion… thus weakening the sense of belonging and threaten-ing the “spirit of the Comboni Family.”
This state of affairs does not favor openness, because the others can be perceived as bosses, or servants, or helpers or, in some cases, “as threatening competitors.”
To be in step with today’s world trends it is not enough to plan a “struc-tural” reform. In other words, any future plan is made useless if first we do not reach out to touch the depths of our hearts, deep inside our lives, where all our choices are born and where we find the “spirit” that animates us. Looking at the future, it doesn’t take much imagination to reach the conclusion that it is not enough to modify or change the norms or the structures in order to improve the quality of our Institute, but rather it is necessary to strengthen the sense of belonging and family spirit. We can-not speak of an opening to the future, if first we do not consider the “spirit” with which we will face it.
For your reflection:
· Do you believe that the formation (basic and ongoing) you received helps you to live in the spirit of a son?
· According to you, which spirit is predominant in the Institute and what will be the consequences in the future?

2. Memory and Prophecy
The future challenges to learn how to match Memory-Tradition and Nov-elty-Prophecy, beginning with the reading of the “signs of the times,” ac-cording to the vision of the prophets. This entails a way of speaking, judg-ing, criticizing and guiding people which is born of our “insertion” in their lives, and of our awareness of the hidden plots and intentions of those who rule the world. It includes also the ability to listen to the repressed cry of peoples as it is manifested in their bleak reality. It also invites us to pay attention to the sources of our charism and to our Comboni tradition, in order not to forget that our Prophecy has its source in God’s Word.
Exactly for this reason, our Prophecy is “the most ancient novelty” be-cause it means to be the voice of the voiceless, to be those who question an unjust situation and demand a change in the name of God.
In this sense, the future asks us to be missionaries who are able to use a language that is simple and clear at the level of the people, at the same time, though, being able to offer and activate “models of solidarity and of common good” by creating situations of communion and participation that are anchored in the Gospel. Furthermore, the future asks us to be mis-sionaries who know how to pay attention to the persons both in their inti-mate dimension (ways of understanding, dreams, hopes, thinking, ideals..) and externally, in the context of globalization; helping people to be the subjects of history according to their own individual characteristics, as communities and as world citizens, with the ability to restore faith in them-selves, in the community and society, which has been destroyed by the old and corrupt mechanisms that rule the world.
For your reflection:
· According to you, which are the signs of the times that the Institute must pay attention to the most?
· Which aspects of the Comboni charism that help you or give you light for the future?
· Looking at the future, which novelty-prophecy should the Comboni mis-sionary have?

3. Opening to others
The opening required by the future is motivated by the tendencies of to-day’s world globalization. The phenomenon of human mobility facilitates the meeting of totally different peoples and cultures in a small geographi-cal space. The tendency to internationality and the changing geography of vocations ever more evident in our Institute require a heart open to new rhythms of life and different styles of being, feeling, thinking, acting…
The future is asking of us the ability to auto-transcend, namely the ability to step out of ourselves, of our ideas, even of our aspirations and roles… In other words, it asks of us the ability to live with people who are different.
The future, then, invites us to don the spirit of Pentecost which takes con-crete shape in attitudes and ways of acting that allow us to speak our lan-guage without closing our ears to others (AA 2:1-13); to open ourselves to communion and participation without losing our identity.
Furthermore, the generation gap that we encounter in our mission, clearly demands of us that we allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit, because this is the only way we have to follow the guidelines proposed by the prophet Joel (3,1ff), who reminds us that the elderly have “dreams” and the young have “visions.” In this sense the future invites us to dream by looking beyond the past and the present. It encourages us to go beyond our fear of sharing our “dreams and visions” in order to translate them into community projects for ourselves and the people we serve. The future asks us to foster the dialogue between different generations and cultures as a style of life, as a missionary method, but above all as a means to build and protect fraternity. To achieve this we need that basic and ongo-ing formation helps the Comboni Missionary to be formed to acceptance and to openness towards true interpersonal relationships.
It must be a formation which provides the necessary elements that will help us bear the burden of accepting ourselves and others.
For your reflection:
· What are the difficulties and the benefits that you have encountered in the multi-culture environment of the Comboni Family?
· According to you, is there in our Institute a dialogue between genera-tions and between confreres coming from different cultures?

4. Writing the “Comboni creed” in our hearts
We have difficulties, but we should not amplify them; we know that we can come up with solutions, even though we know fully well that every desired solution takes us through radical changes of values, interests, thinking, life styles… The multi-cultural dimension and the diversity of social contexts where we offer our missionary service oblige us to define some values that are a must for every Comboni Missionary, independently of his nationality or culture. We cannot be open to the future if first we do not define what is basic for each Comboni Missionary. To be faithful and creative in today’s world demands that we “put into writing”, though not on paper but in our hearts, our “Comboni decalogue.” As we write it, it will help us to build common meanings, to strengthen our identity and the sense of belonging. This way we can be Comboni Missionaries together with others and go beyond conflicts arising from personal interests, dispersion and isolation.
For your reflection:
· What is your “creed”? Is it written in your heart?
· Have you shared it or are you ready to share it with the confreres in your community?

5. Rediscovery of brotherhood
In a world where the human being has become a market commodity, the future asks us to allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit of the Lord, because he is the only one who helps us to take seriously the notion that God is the Father and that brotherhood is a necessary consequence in the task of liberation and human promotion (Lk 4:18-19).
We know fully well that poverty and violence, the fruits of injustice, will not disappear until one accepts the others as brothers and sisters. Humanity loudly demands people who can show us how to live as brothers and sis-ters and as believers in a God who is a Father.
The main aim of today’s mission is to work so that “what-is-not-human” will truly become “human.” The mission needs missionaries who will be anima-tors and promoters of humanizing processes, so that the hands of indi-viduals and peoples we serve will be less and less extended in the gesture of beggars, but more and more in the gesture of cooperators. In other words, the future points at a humanizing mission.
Faced with this missionary vision open to the future, the vocation chal-lenge of the Comboni Brother acquires a new importance in this rainbow of brotherhood. Undoubtedly, the formation and the spirituality of the Comboni Brother needs to be reconsidered, having as a starting point the Mystery of the Incarnation, through which God made himself our Brother and “one of many” (Fl 2) and pitched his tent among us (John 1,14). This means that we must re-think the vocation to the Brotherhood, which has to focus on Jesus Christ, the firstborn of many brothers (Rm 8,29). The future invites us to rediscover fraternity as an essential trait of the Kingdom. And exactly because of this, the rediscovery of the Brother’s vocation as the sacrament of brotherhood” will help us to live and understand the mission, not only as a professional or scientific task, but with the potential of an af-fective bond, born from love.
For your reflection:
· Do you believe that the mission we live by is within this vision of frater-nity?
· According to you, where lies the holiness and the talent of the Comboni Brother?
Ratio Missionis: paper n. 6