This chapter is introduced by the well-known biblical text: Lk 4, 18-19 quoting Is 61, 1-2, a text of extraordinary weight when we think of it in apostolic terms. Its contents are, in fact, “apostolic”. The text speaks of the vocation of the prophet, sent by God to proclaim His Kingdom.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord”. (Lk 4, 18-19, cf. Isaiah 61, 1-2).
Isaiah also mentions a kind of psychological element that Luke does not mention so explicitly. The prophet is sent "to heal the broken-hearted… and to comfort all who mourn; to place on those who mourn … a diadem instead of ashes”(Isaiah 61, 2-3).
What is, therefore, the apostolate that all Marist people (Brothers and Lay people) are called to do and to which each one is sent by the Spirit of God? Taking into account the element of Isaiah that Luke did not cite explicitly, we can say that the apostolate of Marist people covers ALL dimensions of the human being: from social to religious dimensions, while cutting across as well the political, physical and psychological dimensions.
The different dimensions could be presented in the following way:
1. We are sent to announce the Good News to the poor (social level);
2. We are sent to proclaim liberty to the captives (political level);
3. We are sent to give sight to the blind (physical level);
4. We are sent to comfort all who mourn and to soothe the broken-hearted (psychological level);
5. We are sent to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord (religious level).
It is clear that we will not be able to respond to all these dimensions and to realize all these dreams without the presence of the Spirit of God in us, in the Community and in the Congregation. We started the Year of Spirituality on October 7, 2007, singing the traditional sequence to the Holy Spirit and asking the Spirit’s blessings upon the Year of Spirituality to come.
We are finishing the Year today, November 7, 2008, asking the same Spirit to help us and to conserve within us a growing “spirituality”, e.g., conserving us in God’s love. In fact we may say, “The Year of Spirituality is over; the Year of Spirituality continues in a different way”. In fact, one of the objectives of the Year of Spirituality states clearly: "To set in motion formative processes which will continue beyond the actual Year". The Year of Spirituality continues, not so much as a fixed time, but as a grace to welcome and to keep welcoming in our hearts at all times. The "Sacred Fire" of God opens us to the future.
Let us welcome God’s fire into our lives. "I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!" says Jesus (Lk 12, 49). Let us not forget that the baptism of Spirit and fire inaugurated on the first Pentecost day brings two effects. On the one hand it purifies the apostles; and, on the other hand, it extends their apostolate far beyond the borders of Palestine. The Spirit of God always leads us to new horizons of mission, further than we can imagine (cf. Lk 3, 10; at. 2,3-4).
O Sacred Fire, come and blaze. Using my clay mould your new creation.
O Sacred Fire, come and blaze. Bring the world the power of resurrection.
O Sacred Fire, come and blaze. You have the power to create anew.
Dearest Guest, come and blaze, you are Light, Strength, and Salvation.
Out of the depths, O Sacred Fire, come. O Divine Light, come,
Bring our world the power of resurrection.