UNITY IN DIVERSITY
As we celebrate 370 years of the Congregation, I feel impelled to pray, reflect and write about our charism of COMMUNION, on behalf of the JPIC Team.
My memories go back to the little kitchen of the Puy, where 6 young women and widows were gathered around Fr. Medaille, desiring for an active Consecrated Life and not the cloistered one. 4 years before the ecclesial approval the women were in hiding, in silence, trying to respond to the needs of the time in which they lived. There were lot of misery and division between rich and poor. Under the protection of St. Joseph and the guidance of Fr. Medaille, they decided to put their lives and their gifts at the service of the charism, seeking to LIVE AND PROMOTE UNITY. The Gospel text that inspired and motivated them was John 17, 20-23.
WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT, UNIQUE AND UNREPEATABLE
Today, as in the past, we are faced with inequalities and divisions that affect not only humanity but also the universe - our common home. Thus, our Charism of Unity and the presence of JPIC at the level of Congregation and Province continue to be a necessity and a challenge for the better world.
To live UNITY IN DIVERSITY is not easy, but it is not impossible either.
One of the human characteristics that catches our attention is that of “differences”. The truth is that we are all different, unique and unrepeatable. Our differences are wealth for both, for the individual as well as for the humanity.
However, our differences are responsible for many of the difficulties we encounter, especially in our relationships, in our social, political, economic, professional, community, religious and family relationships.
We avoid, consciously or unconsciously, people who are very different from us, both in thought and in their way of being and acting.
WE NEED TO SHARE OUR GIFTS
We would like to change others, in the hope of making our lives easier. However, the big challenge is not to equalize people, but to accept living with differences. Unity is not standardization, wanting everyone to be like us, with the same qualities and, perhaps with the same flaws. Rather, it presupposes respect and acceptance of oneself and others as they are, exercising patience, understanding, charity and if we do that our life gains in quality and our interpersonal relationships become more pleasant.
We need to share our gifts and our talents with that of the others. We need to collaborate, make partnership, trust and make the best use of each person's potential to grow in our coexistence.
We need to be courageous, coherent and accept our differences in relationships. Acceptance of differences are opportunity for our enhancement and not a path to distance oneself from the other. Differences can become the spice of a good relationship.
IT IS POSSIBLE TO OVERCOME DIFFERENCES WITH THE HELP OF THE SPIRIT
The unity willed by God, in Jn 17:20-23, is not a uniformity or suppression of differences. In fact, the wealth of unity in God is manifested by differences, when lived in love.
In St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians we find a clear reference of God’s desire to gather all those who are dispersed: “We were baptized into one Spirit to form one body” (1 Cor 12:13). The Apostle, speaking of the unity generated by the Spirit, draws attention to the rich diversity of qualities and gifts that exist in the community. He teaches us that it is from this diversity that unity is built.
Pope Francis says that the Holy Spirit does not undo differences or eliminate diversity. On the contrary, it restores harmony to the human heart, bringing together and uniting the aloof and the dispersed. With the help of the Spirit, it is possible to overcome differences and be united, even in an age marked by polarization.
Let us also remember what St. Paul says: "There is a diversity of gifts, but one Spirit." (1Cor 12, 4)
EVERY UNITY HAS ITS SOURCE IN THE LIFE OF THE ONE AND TRIUNE GOD
Pope Francis also recommends that we seek unity, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, and that we need not be afraid of differences. Unity is not about thinking alike or losing one's identity. On the contrary, “it is recognizing and accepting with joy the different gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows on each one, and to place them at the service of all”. The Pope goes on to say that “Unity in diversity is also listening, accepting differences, being free to think differently and expressing one's thoughts freely, with due respect for people”.
“Every Unity has its source in the life of the Triune God, the basis of our spirituality. God the Trinity asks us, in turn, to communicate this treasure to others, united in the service of his truth”.
In the certainty that the Spirit which gives life to us is one and the same, let us fight so that the project of unity extends to all of humanity, building ever more human relationships, capable of mutual respect and selfless love.
Despite the physical distance caused by the Corona virus pandemic, let us remain together, even though we are physically far away. The means of communication help to bring togetherness and shorten distances.
Where the world sees conflicts and divisions, we are challenged to forge the bonds of mercy, understanding, forgiveness and brotherhood.
WE NEED TO BUILD BRIDGES AND DEFEND LIFE
Today, as it was in the beginning of the Congregation, the world needs our presence- as Sisters of St. Joseph to be witness to the unity. We need to build bridges, defend life, give a voice to the voiceless and break down the walls, visible and invisible which impede sincere dialogue and true communication. But first, we need to be united with each other and be a sign of unity wherever we are and in whatever we do.
IN THE CIRCLE OF UNITY, JUSTICE AND PEACE will embrace building a happier world, among us, with other people and with the universe, our common home.
Sr. Laura Gavazzoni – JPIC/Brazil
obrigada ir Laura, por nos ajudar a retomar nossas origem de maneira clara, acessivel e profunda!