"All belong to you, and you belong to Christ." (1 Cor 3:22–23).
The setting of these words is the Christian community in Corinth, which was extremely lively, full of initiative, animated by groups linked to different charismatic leaders. This gave rise to tensions among individuals and groups, to divisions, cults of personality, the need to dominate.
Paul intervened decisively, reminding everyone that, beyond the richness and variety of gifts and leaders belonging to the community, something much deeper bound them in unity: belonging to God.
Once more the great Christian proclamation rings out: God is with us, and we are not lost, orphaned, abandoned to ourselves, but, as God’s children, we are God’s. As a true Father, God cares for each of us, without letting us go without anything we need for our good. Indeed, God is superabundant in love and in giving, as Paul affirms: “The world, life, death, the present, the future — all belong to you!” God has even given us his Son, Jesus.
What huge trust on God’s part in placing these into our hands! Instead, how often have we abused his gifts. We have believed ourselves to be the lords of creation, to the point of plundering and despoiling it; lords of our brothers and sisters, to the point of enslaving and slaughtering them; lords of our own lives, to the point of wasting them in narcissism and self-destruction.
God’s huge gift — “all belong to you”— calls for gratitude. Often we complain about what we don’t have and we only turn to God to ask. Couldn’t we look around and discover the beauty and the goodness surrounding us? Couldn’t we say thank you to God for what he gives us each day?
This “all belong to you” is also a responsibility. It demands our attention, our tenderness, our care for all that has been entrusted to us, which includes the whole world and every human being. It’s that same care that Jesus has for us (“you belong to Christ”), the same care that the Father has for Jesus (“Christ belongs to God”).
We ought to know how to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. We should be ready to gather up every cry, division, pain and violence as something that belongs to us, so as to share it, to the point of transforming it into love. Everything has been given to us so that we bring it to Christ, that is, to the fullness of life, and to God, that is, to its final goal, thus giving back the dignity and the deepest meaning that belong to each thing and each person.
In this way, Focolare founder Chiara Lubich, during a profound mystical experience in the summer of 1949, sensed such a unity with Christ that she felt bound to him as a bride to her spouse. This led her to think of the dowry she would bring, and she understood that through this transforming love, it should be the whole of creation. On his side, he would bring to her as his inheritance the whole of paradise. She remembered then the words of the psalm: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” (Ps 2:8) And she commented: “And we believed and we asked, and he gave us all things that we may bring them to him and he will give us heaven: we the created, he the uncreated.”
Toward the end of her life, speaking of the movement to which she had given life and in which she saw herself reflected, Chiara wrote: ‘What, just now, would be my last wish? I wish that the [the Focolare], at the end of the ages, when it will be waiting, united, to appear before the forsaken and risen Jesus, might be able to repeat to him, taking on the words of the Belgian theologian Jacques Leclercq, words I always find moving: ‘On your day, my God, I shall come to you ... I shall come to you, my God ...with my wildest dream: to bring you the world in my arms.’” (The Cry, New City Press, New York, 2001, p. 137)
Today too, each one of us can ask ourselves, “What can I do today to bring God the world in my arms?”
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. “As yourself,” Essential Writings. New City Press: Hyde Park, New York, 2007, p. 79.
Lubich, Chiara. “Make yourself one,” Art of Loving. New City Press: Hyde Park, New York, 2010, p. 69–88.
“Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.” (Sir 28:2).