“He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself
will be with them.” (Rev 21:3)
God has always wanted this: to dwell with us, his people. The first pages of the Bible already show how God comes down from heaven, walks in the garden and talks with Adam and Eve. Didn’t he create us for this? What does a lover want if not to be with the beloved? The Book of Revelation, which examines God’s plan in history, gives us the certainty that God’s desire will be fulfilled completely.
With the coming of Jesus — Emmanuel, “God with us” — he already started living in our midst. And now that Jesus is risen, his presence is no longer limited to one place or one time: he is present in the entire world. Since then, Jesus has been building a new and highly original community, a people made up of many peoples. God does not wish to dwell only in my soul, in my family, in my people, but among all peoples called to form one people.
At the same time, the current experience of human mobility is changing the idea of what it is to be a people. In many nations, the people is made up of many ethnic groups.
We are so different from one another in the color of our skin, our culture and our religion. We often look at one another with distrust, suspicion or fear. We even wage war on each other. And yet God is father of all, and loves each and every one of us. He does not want to live with only one people — “Ours of course,” would be our first thought — and leave the others behind. For God, we are all his sons and daughters, a single family.
Let’s make the effort, therefore, guided by the Word of Life this month, to appreciate diversity, respect others, and look at them as someone who belongs to me. I am the other, the other is me; the other lives in me, I live in the other. And let’s begin with those we share our life with every day. This way we can make space for the presence of God among us. It will be God who builds unity, who safeguards the identity of each people, who creates a new way of being society.
Chiara Lubich already had this insight in 1959. She wrote a passage that is extraordinarily current and is an amazing prophecy:
“If one day all people, not as individuals but as nations, would learn to put themselves aside … and if they would do this as the expression of the mutual love among nations that God asks for, just as he asks for mutual love among individuals, that day would mark the beginning of a new era. For on that day … Jesus will be alive and present among peoples …
“Now is the time for every people to go beyond its own borders, to look farther. Now is the time to love other countries as our own, to acquire a new purity of vision. To be Christians, it is not enough to be detached from ourselves. The times we live in demand something more from the followers of Christ: the awareness of Christianity’s social dimension …
“And we hope that the Lord may have mercy on this divided and confused world, on peoples closed within their shells contemplating their own beauty — the only beauty that exists for them (though it is both limiting and unsatisfying). They strain to hold on to their treasures against all odds, the very treasures that could help other people who are dying of hunger. May the Lord cause all barriers to fall and allow love to run uninterrupted through all lands, flooding them with spiritual and material goods.
“Let us hope that the Lord brings about a new order in the world. Only he can make humanity a family and cultivate the unique characteristics of each people so that the splendor of each, placed at the service of others, may shine with the one light of life.
“This light of life, in making each earthly country beautiful, will make it the antechamber of the eternal country” (Essential Writings, 2006, p. 231–232).
Fr. Fabio Ciardi, OMI
Each month the Focolare offers a Scripture passage as a guide and inspiration for daily living. Ever since the Focolare’s earliest years, founder Chiara Lubich (1920–2008) wrote her own commentaries each month. Now Fr. Fabio Ciardi, OMI, theologian and close collaborator of Lubich, is writing the commentaries, reflecting her thoughts and her spirituality of unity.
Read more on this topic:
Lubich, Chiara. “Universal brotherhood and the united world,” Unity. Ed. Donato Falmi and Florence Gillet. New City Press: Hyde Park, New York, 2015, p. 113-131.
Masters, Tom and Amy Uelmen. “E Pluribus Unum—The Focolare Spirituality and the Quest for Community in a Pluralistic Society,” Focolare: Living a Spirituality of Unity in the United States. New City Press: Hyde Park, New York, 2011, p. 172-191.
“Be at peace with one another.” (Mk 9:50)