“Look, here is the Lamb of God! … What are you looking for? … Rabbi, where do you live? … Come and see” (Jn 1:36-39)
It is an historic detail, confirmed by each of the four evangelists, that from the outset of his evangelising activities (cf. Mk 1:14-15), Jesus called some to follow him (cf. Mk 1:16-20). These first disciples of his thus became “companions throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us” (Acts 1:21-22).
Evangelisation and vocation thus become two inseparable elements. Furthermore, a criterion of the authenticity of good evangelisation is its ability to give rise to vocations, to see to the growth of projects of gospel living, to completely involve those who are evangelised to the point where they become disciples and apostles.
Following on from the Strenna for 2010, “Lord, we want to see Jesus”, about the urgent need to evangelise, I am making a heartfelt appeal to the Salesian Family now to feel the urgency of, the need to call others.
Dear brothers and sisters, every member of the Salesian Family, I therefore invite you to be true spiritual guides for the young, like John the Baptist pointing out Jesus to his disciples and telling them: “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (Jn 1:36), so they can follow him to a point where Jesus, aware that they are following him, turns to them directly with the question: “What are you looking for?” and they, overcome with the desire to profoundly get to know who this Jesus is, ask him: “Rabbi, where do you live?” (Jn 1:38), and he invites them to share the experience of being with him: “Come and see”. They will have experienced something immensely beautiful from the moment they “came and saw where he was staying and they remained with him” (Jn 1:39).
Here then is the pedagogical direction we must take:
1. Return to Don Bosco:
- Make the Valdocco experience our own; it creates a family environment of great spiritual worth, one of apostolic involvement and spiritual accompaniment which is sustained by intense love for the Church and the world.
- Show the beauty, the appropriateness of our Salesian vocation for today and its variety: a life completely given to God in the service of the young is well worth living.
- Live our lives and help the lives of others to be understood as vocation and mission. And all this as a great gift which is experienced with God at the centre, in fellowship with all consecrated men and women dedicated to the poorest and most needy.
2. Become Don Bosco for the young people of today
- Be aware of the central, obvious place of consecrated persons in the carrying out of the Salesian mission. This was Don Bosco’s belief and experience.
- Create a culture of vocation as was the case at Valdocco, one marked by seeking the meaning of existence, with transcendence as its horizon, sustained and supported by profound values, a planning mentality, and aimed at a culture of fellowship and solidarity.
- Ensure accompaniment through the quality of our personal lives, our education to love and chastity, our responsibility for history, starting them out in prayer, apostolic involvement.
- Make the Salesian Youth Movement a privileged place for the journey of vocational discernment: where young people experience and show how the current of communion flowing around Don Bosco, his pedagogical values, and Salesian Youth Spirituality results in a volunteer movement and projects of life.
Rome, 31 May 2010.
Fr Pascual Chávez Villanueva