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Reflection on the 18th GC Statement - Commitment to Intercultural living - Bridge builders, No.33

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Personally, I admire the constructions of bridges. They fascinate with their capacity to connect in spite of difficult conditions. Thanks to the bridges, the abysses are arched, the opposite riverbanks are linked and also communication is facilitated. The bridge builders do good job.

Our last General Chapter’s Statement in nr. 33 offers several suggestions for our commitment concerning living in our communities. And “to become bridge builders” is the key for our interaction with others. Building the bridges not of wood, nor of iron, but with words.

I would say, we need principally three types of words that would help us being bridge builders. First, “basic” words, words of our daily human communication. Pope Francis uses to repeat it quite often that we use in our daily communication words like “thanks”, “sorry”, “please”. This is the basis. Second, more “solid” words, words of human interaction, words of exchange that help us to know each other more profoundly: words of mutual sharing, words of one’s own life experiences, capacity to talk but also to listen to the difficulties of others and their struggles. Talk and listen to. And trying to comprehend. Third and final, we need “sacred words”, the words of the Scripture that we pray together, reflect and read together – in the form of bible sharing, or lectio divina, or during the retreat... Because the word of the Scripture are “lamp on our paths” (Ps 119:105), that will enlighten and will help us to build from our communities places warm and hospitable, both for the confreres and for occasional incomers.

I recall my experiences from the communities around the world where I felt home. Those were communities where people were not absorbed only by their “own business”, but were ready to “loose” their time to talk to the each other and talk to the newcomers. And I learned those were communities where confreres had commitment to meet together regularly around the shared table of the meal and around the shared table of the word of God.

When speaking to the young people gathered during the last World Youth Day in Panama – in January 2019 – pope Francis exhorted them to become bridge builders, not the builders of walls; by the way, an idea that he repeats often. He said the following: “…the devil, the father of lies, always prefers divided people, at odds with each other. He is the master of the division. He is afraid of people who learn to work together.” Then he addressed the present young people and he said: “You want to be bridge builders. What do you want to be?” Their answer was: “Builders of bridges”. Now, what would be my personal answer on this question; what do I want to be in my community?

Fr. Marek Vaňuš, SVD


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