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Prayer And Social Involvement

Another aspect of the ‘Missionary Spirituality for Our Time,’ which I now present, is about prayer and social involvement.

Here, I consider prayer as a creative  dialogue between God and His children. In prayer, God gives Himself to us and we give ourselves to Him. A beautiful interaction and exchange of gifts!

The privileged way, through which God speaks to us, is the Holy Scripture which presents His Word made flesh in Christ Jesus. Thanks to the action of the Spirit, Vatican II enabled us to rediscover three important characteristics of the Word: it is alive, it is effective and it is always challenging. It is alive: this means that when we listen to the Word, we do not listen to a word pronounced centuries ago and now present to us as written with ink on cold paper. No, when we listen to the Word, it is God Himself who speaks to us. The Word is effective: this means that when we listen with faith, the Word generates in us the effects wanted by God. The Word is challenging and many times disturbing. 

I would like to develop this third aspect of the Word. It is challenging for each person who spends time in prayer. In fact, the Word makes the person understand that salvation from God cannot be enjoyed in isolation; not to be sterile, true prayer is always mingled with social involvement, moves along the roads of history and sheds the light of Christ on people. 

There are so many men and women who have been of inspiration as far as this point is concerned. I have chosen to present a great German theologian probably not known to many of us: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the author of The Cost of Discipleship.

In 1945, Bonhoeffer was killed by Hitler and his close supporters because he could not stand the fact that the German National Socialism Party was doing everything possible in order to have a great Germany without God. Going beyond fear, he proclaimed that a nation cannot be great without God, and spoke with faith and strength against Hitler and his crazy plan. Many friends of Bonhoeffer were telling him that they had the possibility for him to leave the country, go to the U.S.A and save his life. The great follower of Christ refused to go, saying: “I would not have any right to take part in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share now in the suffering and the struggle of my people.”

We have a great challenge here. To believe that we are close to Jesus through prayer and that  we can enjoy the gifts of salvation, remaining silent in our safety zone, is an illusion. With all the situations of poverty, injustice, oppression, war and selfishness we have in the world, for a follower of Christ to be silent and uninvolved is a great sin of omission.

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