Pope Francis participates in curial spiritual exercises in Ariccia Pope Francis participates in curial spiritual exercises in Ariccia 

Spiritual Exercises: Listen to the thirst of the periphery

In his meditation on Thursday afternoon, Fr José Tolentino Mendoça provokes us to listen to the thirst of those living on the periphery. By doing that, he says, “the Church will rediscover herself.”

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Keeping our eyes open in order to see what is happening in the world is essential to the spiritual life, Fr Tolentino tells us. Otherwise, we become comfortable and we evade our social responsibility. He reminds us that “the voice of God should always confront us with the primordial question: ‘Where is your brother’?”

Lack of water

The spiritual question of thirst would remain incomplete if it did not bring us nearer to “the literal and elementary thirst which torments and limits the existence of so many of our contemporaries,” he says. 30% of the world’s population does not have access to drinking water in their homes. This is a thirst lived by those on the periphery which calls for an “urgent adoption of an authentic conversion of lives and hearts,” Fr Tolentino observes.

Jesus lived on the periphery

Jesus understands those who live on the periphery. He was born in a periphery of Bethlehem, not in the city. He lived in Nazareth “a name so insignificant that it is one of the rare places in Palestine that was never named anywhere in the Old Testament.” And “improbable Galilee” became the chosen place for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ message finds its way into the periphery. And as reported in the first conclusion of Mark’s Gospel, even after his resurrection, Jesus  wants to meet the disciples “once again in the periphery: ‘He is going before you to Galilee’ ” (Mk 16:7).

Christianity is a periphery

Choosing “the periphery is in the DNA of the Christian,” Fr Tolentino continues. In every era, and in every place, that is where Christians encounter and re-encounter Jesus. Thus, “Christianity is a peripheral reality…. For the Church, the periphery is not a problem but a horizon.” Only by moving out of itself can the Church discover a new missionary ardor. In this way, “the unheard of happens: only by moving out of herself can the Church rediscover herself.”

22 February 2018, 17:00