By Heri Junianto, sx –
Since Vatican II, a model of church that has been promoted is the church as communion. From then on, the true meaning of the church is no longer merely a building in which Christians meet, focusing on the place of gathering. Rather, it refers to the people of God (Christians) who gather together as a community. This new model of the church makes possible for people to experience the church as community. That is why, in line with Vatican II, every local church builds up small Christian communities whose members can have a strong sense of belongingness and of responsibility for each other.
It is in the context of these small communities that foster communion among people that our Xaverian Theologate of the Philippines takes the opportunity to work together with the local church by promoting, journeying with and encouraging the so called Basic ecclesial communities (BECs), particularly some of the Bible Sharing groups of our St. Francis Xavier Parish. Our parish is subdivided into 9 zones and each zone is comprised of 4 to 6 areas. Due to our limitations as scholastics we cannot be present in all the zones of the parish, therefore we choose to focus more on one of them for our apostolate, namely the Zone 4. This zone is composed by the following areas: Muling Pagkabuhay, Christ the King, San Isidiro, St. Claire, and St. Niño. One of the activities is the establishment of Bible sharing groups among neighbors in coordination with the local coordinators of the respective areas. So far, we have 3 Bible Sharing groups. We hold the activities of the Bible Sharing three times a week. On Fridays afternoon, we have the activity in Muling Pagkabuhay and San Isidiro areas. On Saturday afternoon, we try to do our best in the Bible Sharing group of St. Nino area. We do it not in one fix place but go from house to house.
Having a ministry with the Bible Sharing Groups is a challenging and an enriching experience. It is challenging because up to now, we do not have consistent members. The number of those who join the activity depends on how close their relationship with the host of the Bible Sharing is. If the host has many friends, the number of attendants will be quite many. Yet, if the host is not so expansive in relationships, the number will be very few. Once we held the activity in a common and fix place in order to have more attendants, but the result was disappointing. Finally, we decided to return to the previous way of house to house. However, we are still thinking about the best way to do it based on their situations.
Despite of the challenge we are facing, there is a big hope. Firstly, in our activity, we gather together around the Word of God and it is a nice moment for each one of us to listen to the Word speaking and to make it as the centre of our life. Once, one “Ate” said, “there is always something new we can learn from the Gospel. If we take it seriously, it leads us to renewal of life and conversion.” Secondly, it is always a place to be generous to each other. Sharing is a part of our activity. After listening to and reflecting upon the Word of God, we proceed with sharing the fruits of our meditation connected to our experiences in day to day life. And, in the end of the activity, the host usually offers us some “merienda”. It is complete. Both, the physical and spiritual thirst are being satisfied. Thirdly, since we are small groups, everybody knows each other well. We see a deep personal relationship not only with one another, but also with the Word. There is a unity among the members and with the Word. Lastly, one new ministry has been established since several months ago. It is not by chance that most of the members of the new ministry, pastoral care for malnourish children, belong to our Bible Sharing groups. It means that the group is a source of a new ministry. It can be a means to build up a community of disciples in which the members are united with the Word and with one another to serve the church and people around them. Therefore, in this ministry, the only wish we have is to keep this hope burning in our heart, so that no matter the amount of challenges we face, we never say “give up”.