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September 1976

You have one master, the Christ. (Mt. 23:10)

To understand with the whole of ourselves is quite different to understanding with the mind alone, as when we learn facts in school. When we know as a person, we know with our bodies and minds, and we feel the truth with the pores of our skin. We find too, freedom, and peace, laughter, life and love.

It is to this kind of teaching that the Word of Life refers. The gospel text is full of meaning, because it refers to a reality. Christ is master because he is present. Especially when we are united in his name, as he promised, he is present among us as a person. It is he who leads and guides us; not this or that individual with his limited vision and his human failings.

Anxiety, neurosis and unhappiness are all around us; but what the Gospel offers is the wonderful freedom of the sons of God. We don't have to do anything different to be free, but we do have to be different, or renewed. In the beautiful and spiritual wisdom of the Orient, the spiritual masters say that we must overcome our own desires and passions to find fulfilment. The question has always been concerning the "how" of achieving that end. For us the answer is clear; it means living in such a way that Jesus is present among us, by being one in his name.

When he is present there is no anxiety, for we have all reality, all answers to our problems present in him. We must insure we are at one with Him and each other, wherever we are, whatever we are doing.

This means many things in practice, but it always means a continuous change of heart, a continuous exercising of our spirit to be with him. It always means we must be detached from ourselves - 'He who loses his life will find it'. The context of the Word of Life is when Jesus is saying that we must not want the highest places, the glory or limelight. We cannot push our own theories and ideas, for we are not to be called rabbi by men, for we are all brothers and have only one teacher, the Christ. (Mt. 23:1-12)

We must learn how to abandon everything, our values, our plans our possessions and our own lives. For being one with God, and with each other, means giving everything to God, our time, our ideas, our minds, hearts and wills, our money. How many times do we cling to our own ideals, ideas and possessions, but they are an unworthy substitute for the living God.

Living in this way is not a negative experience, for we begin to know and understand with the whole of ourselves how Christ is the Master. Has he not given us the circumstances of our lives - our families, our personality, our work, ourselves? Does he not want to shine through these circumstances, giving us light to see how to go on, making us mature men and women, and by our lives leading others to find the same freedom and fulfilment? The secret as to achieving this end is to put our real unity with others as the highest priority, because it is the others who teach us also to find the one Master among us. Together we are able to share in this great outpouring of grace, the ideal of Unity, which is the heart of the gospel. We will be enlightened in every situation by Him, among us, our Master and friend.

Jonathan Cotton, O.S.B.


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The Word of Life is published by the Focolare Movement