29 May 2016 ‘When the other knocks at my door’
In preparation for the forthcoming second part of the Twin Consultations on Reformation – Education – Transformation organized by EMW in Germany and taking place 18-22 May 2016, Mr José Luis Aguirre (WACC-Latin America Regional President) – who attended the first part of the twin consultation in Sao Leopoldo, Brazil last year – was invited to share his experiences, impressions and expectations with Dr Glory Dharmaraj (WACC-North America Regional Executive member) and Rev Akuila Yabaki (WACC-Pacific Regional Executive member) who will both be representing WACC at the second part of the twin consultation.
“I would like to humbly share a recent intervention I made at an international event where I took part while representing WACC. In November 2015, I participated as a representative of WACC in the event titled Reformation – Education – Transformation ( RET). The first part of the RET project, an international consultation organised by the German Protestant churches, in São Leopoldo, Brazil, took place in November 2015 and the second part will take place in the town of Halle (Saale) in Germany this year during the month of May. The meetings have to do with preparations for commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
Therefore, the São Leopoldo event included contributions by more than a hundred people from Africa, Latin America, Asia, North America and Europe who were there to discuss the vision that is needed for reform in our one world. At the meeting various faith traditions were present (Baptists, Mennonites, Anglican, Reformed, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Independent churches, United churches and Catholic) so this was an international, intercultural and experientially ecumenical space. For me, it was highly significant as it invited me to reflect on the need for the meeting and even more to be open to the other (person of different faith) that, in this case, was based on the power of being together with brothers and sisters of faith practices different from my own as a Catholic.
What gave profound meaning to this visit to Brazil was one of the inaugural celebrations during which the biblical passage of the Gospel of Matthew was highlighted in which, after Jesus had been crucified, two pilgrims go on the journey to Emmaus commenting with sadness about what had happened. What was special about this journey of the pilgrims was the presence of a third person who joined their walk. It’s about someone asking them what they are talking about on their way. Thus, they inform him that they are returning with sadness from Jerusalem where a prophet, mighty in his works and words, had been crucified before God and all the people. The pilgrims relate what happened in detail, pausing especially at the fact that after he was dead and buried, he who was crucified had appeared to some women. The dialog allows the three walkers to converse amicably, but right until the end of the journey and nightfall, those who hadn’t realised discover that it was Jesus who was walking alongside them.
This portrait, which is more accurate in the Gospel of Luke, ensured that right at the beginning of the activity of the RET we asked the question whether we are willing to discover one another, even more so when we walk the same path, we are together, we eat and we have to rest together but we don’t appreciate the real presence of the brother or sister who is with us.
The discovery can only occur through communication, but not as a simple flow of thoughts from one side to the other, but when one is inspired by the Spirit, who opens our eyes and understanding to allow light from one to another, to make visible who we often despise, who we ignore or who we don’t want to see in our path. The Spirit of God, and thus God himself, is who enables us to communicate in order to meet with one another. And thus the risen Christ should be the source of any initiative for reform of our being, living and feeling the faith, knowing that he is with us and that we need to discover him and will do so in the face of the Other who is in our path.
This reflection is what enabled me to know that in São Leopoldo and in such a diverse space I could find myself with so many brothers as a gift from God himself who allowed this opportunity for me to search for him and find him in those who are now already my friends.
Thank you. José Luis Aguirre Alvis.”
About the author of this entry:
José Luis Aguirre, from Bolivia, has been a WACC personal member for twenty years, and the university where he works, the Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo” and its communication center, are a corporate member of WACC. He is currently the Regional President of WACC-Latin America, and since 2015 has also been appointed Vice President of WACC Global.