Asian Christian perspectives on Harmony
by FABC, FOR ALL People of ASIA Vol.2
An Active Commitment to Harmony
Every Christian has a mission to help restore harmony in this world of tension and conflict. We have not only been given peace. We are called to be peacemakers. Having experienced what it means to be a new creation, what it is to enter into harmonious relationship within ourselves, with God, with our fellow human beings and with the rest of creation, we are empowered to proclaim and share the harmony we have experienced. We can fulfil this as individuals, as a Church-community and in collaboration with others.
A Call for Self-Examination
There is an urgent need for the Churches in Asia to make self-examination of their world-view, their faith-vision, their inner life, their attitudes, their relationships, their structures and programs of pastoral action. The Second Vatican Council sets us an example in this direction. The council was primarily a selfexamination by the Church of its mystery in relation to God and his world. It gave a radical description of the Church as a sacrament of intimate union with God and of the unity of the humankind; it is a sign and instrument of such union and unity (LG, no. l). The Church must first embody and realize itself this union and unity of which it is a sign. Then it must radiate this harmony in its relationship with the world.
The Need for a New Self-Understanding of the Church
Institutionalization has made the Churches in Asia insular and self-serving structures, rendering it almost impossible for them to enter into the mainstream of history, culture and the national life of the people. The Church has to go through a fresh process of understanding itself and reidentifying it self in relation to the concrete communities – ethnic, religious – whose life and struggle we share.
Focus on the Formation of Christian Community
The Christian community has to appreciate this new vision of harmony and manifest it in the way it lives its daily life. The mission of the community is in a way a communication of its own inner life of harmony. A community that is beset with continual tensions and conflicts cannot fulfil its mission of bringing harmony to the world.
Formation for a life of harmony in the Christian com munity can take different forms, depending on the circumstances. One of the most effective ways is perhaps to make the parish a communion of communities wherein the faith vision can be meaningfully lived and translated into action. In the small communities within the parish, prayerful reflection over the word of God, against the background of multireligious, multi-ethnic community we share with others, will make the members more sensitive to the problems of social injustice, discrimination, conflicts, etc. The members will thus be enabled to forge ties with other groups of other religious traditions, and collaborate with them matters of justice and peace.
A Prophet Leadership of the Community
Every disciple of Jesus and the whole Christian community has also to play a prophetic role, i.e., a liberative leadership in the spirit of the Gospel and the praxis of Jesus. Different groups, such as men, women, youth, etc., need to be formed in this kind of leadership; and it has to be an ongoing process in the parish community through prayer sessions, discussions, seminars, etc. The liturgical life of the parish can be an effective instrument to instil in the people the vision of harmony and develop in them leadership with a true ecumenical spirit.
We must develop prophetic leaders among both the clergy and laity who can spread this broader vision. Such training in leadership must become part of the seminary training of priests. The formation of lay leaders in this vision of harmony should take place in different levels in the Church. A systematic training with regular courses, seminars, etc., is an urgent need. The model and inspiration for Chris tian leadership is Jesus himself in praxis; it was a liberating leadership in the sense that it was contextual, prophetic, ready to face conflicts in solidarity with the oppressed.
Teams of resource persons, or task forces, need to be developed to effectively conduct the training programs, be they in the diocese or the region or the country.
Formation in the Family
The disharmony in our society often has its roots in the disharmony in the home. When there is harmony in every home, the nation will be peaceful. In a family centered on God suffused with love, the primacy of relationships over things, as well as the correct relationship with things will be fostered. The family should be the first school of a dialogic way of life. Respect for the faith of our brethren of other religious traditions, and concern for issues of social justice, need to be initiated in the family. Religious and social contacts, participation and involvement of brotherhood need to be encouraged.
Training for Conflict
Dealing effectively with conflictual situations is a social skill which must be learned. If we as Christians and promoters of harmony want to be effective in our work, we must acquire the skills needed for this delicate task. Training programs for leaders, clergy and laity, must be devised by the experts in the field and made use of by all who wish to engage in the task.