When the fullness of time came
- Published in General Secretariat for Formation
The expression contained in the Letter of St Paul the Apostle to the Galatians (cf. 4:4) often echoes throughout the Christmas season in our Liturgy, and becomes a strong reminder to consider the coming of Christ in history, as the fulfilment of a time. In history - Salvation History - God's works are accomplished, and man is a witness and participant, invited to be a protagonist in receiving the salvation that comes from above.
There is a time when things mature and come to fulfilment, a special time, marked by a special quality, capable of building the future; it is the kairos, the opportune time, when God's promises are fulfilled, his work: God becomes man.
The Church teaches us that it is necessary to prepare for this event, to welcome it again and again as a renewal of our own lives: we prepare for Christmas.
Looking at our religious life, we can use the parallelism of the special time, which is that of initial formation, in which the foundations are laid for the whole future of religious life. Here, the young person is accompanied to make discernment about the intuitions he has matured, in order to read his own life in terms of responding to the Lord's call. Wanting to use the typical phraseology of the liturgy, we can say that the young person is called to "straighten out the roads" that are crooked inside him, to "smooth out the hills" that impede an agile step in life, to prepare a space for the Lord within his own life, so that he can take up residence. It is the time when the young person discovers in "fullness" the fascination of following Christ, and with all his heart decides to do so. It is the time of the great preparation for what will be the future activity of the friar as well as consolidating the choice made; it is the time of the expectation of what will be tomorrow, the time of projects and dreams about the future (perhaps it will not always be as dreamt, but certainly inhabited by His presence), the time of projects, which are interwoven with those of fraternity and obedience.
Initial formation is therefore the kairos in which one lives the expectation of the future - Advent - and the rootedness in the vocation received, and the blossoming of a fruitful yes said to the Lord of life (the fruits will come later).
In this liturgical season of Advent, the wish is that all of us consecrated persons may re-launch our adherence to the Lord with renewed enthusiasm, recalling the fruitful time of our initial formation, and reappropriating more and more what is essential in our lives.