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Acts of the International Seminar
on "Jesus, the Master"
(Ariccia, October 14-24, 1996)

by Josť Bortolini ssp



I. Jesus Master, the formator of the Apostles

Biblical enlightenment

II. The group master in the mind of Fr. Alberione

1. Examining the journey covered

a) The identity of the "Master of the group"

b) Why a Master of the group?

c) Is there a secret for a successful formation?

d) Qualities

2. Way, Truth and Life method in studies: growth of personality

3. Some indications for us

4. Some types of "formation methods"

a) Antiquated life style which generates a continuist formation

b) Reformist manner of formation

c) Breakaway formation model



Reading the Gospels, above all the Synoptics, from the point of view of teacher-disciple relationship, we immediately see the importance of the subject matter for all those who want to find in the gospels a point of departure in view of a formation pedagogy. Fr. Alberione discovered such vein and, in all his sermons and writings, he never tired on insisting on the fact that the relationship teacher-disciple in the gospels holds as well in the field of formation (formator-formandi) and for the entire itinerary of the Pauline consecrated life.

The texts by the Founder which deal with such a relationship are abundant. A phrase taken from the CISP (p. 775) seems to be the synthesis of all that he said on the matter: "Jesus has reserved for himself the choice and the formation of the Apostles; because of this, he continually wanted them near." (return to summary)

Biblical enlightenment

To further study this aspect, I took as a point of departure the Gospel of Mark. According to many scholars, this gospel is born with a very clear purpose: to be a kind of "catechism for the catechumens." Following step by step the plan of Mark, those who were preparing themselves for baptism built a response to the question which runs through the gospel: "Who is Jesus." Answering such a question, the catechumens began to understand what is the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed as forthcoming and set into motion through his liberating action.

Nonetheless, Mark’s Gospel does not have only the preoccupation of showing "who is Jesus." At the same time, it raises a new question and this becomes consistent, a question that is found also in the same gospel: "Who is Jesus’ disciple?" In the primitive end (16:1-8), an angel, through the women, gives an order to those who were still with Jesus, "Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, ‘He precedes you in Galilee. There you will see him as I have told you’" (16:7). In other words, the disciples would experience the risen Jesus only when they returned to Galilee in order to accomplish the same things done by Jesus in that land of impoverished and marginalized people.

Roughly, Mark’s Gospel has two parts: 1:1–8:26 and 8:17–16:8. Among the many aspects that could be drawn in each of them, I underline the following: in the first part (1:1–8:26) Mark groups together the miracles of Jesus because it is through Jesus’ action that the Kingdom approaches and becomes ever more concrete. The second part (8:27–16:8) is characterized by the personalized Catechesis by Jesus to his disciples (cf. 9:31). It is at the start of this part that Mark presents three proclamations of the Passion (8:31; 9:30-32; 10:32-34). After each of them, Mark presents a strange reaction on the part of the disciples, reactions contrary to the journey of Jesus: 1. Peter rejects the suffering Messiah, and Jesus calls him Satan (8:32-33); 2. The disciples seek prestige (9:33-35); 3. The sons of Zebedee seek power (10:35-40).

In this manner the "formative" intention of the Gospel of Mark is further emphasized. If on one hand we progressively discover – through the miracles (Part 1) and through the journey of the Cross (Part 2) – "Who is Jesus," we also discover, on the other hand, "Who is the disciple of Jesus."

In this sense, the first part of the Mark’s gospel has a text which calls attention to and summarizes well what "to be formed in the school of Jesus" means. It concerns the formation of the new people of God (the choice of the Twelve): 3:13-19. It is said that "Jesus went up the mountain and called to himself whom he wanted; and these approached him. Then he chose twelve whom he called apostles in order that they stayed close to him and that he may send them to preach with the power of driving away demons" (vv. 13-15). These short verses summarize and unite in an extraordinary manner the two dimensions: that of being a disciple of Jesus, that is, to stay close to him, and the proclamation of the Kingdom, synthesized in the driving away of demons. These are like the two faces of a single reality: communion with the Master (to stay with him) for a mission which is none other that to do what the same Master does: to expel demons, that is to say, to totally reintegrate the human person created to the image and likeness of his Creator.

In those short verses, spirituality/communion of the disciple with the Master (to stay with him) and the mission of the disciple which extends the liberating action of Jesus (to drive away demons) are inseparably united. The first does not exist without the second and the second cannot be without the first. In this sense it is opportune to point out what the high priest’s servant-girl told Peter: "Also you were with the Nazarene, Jesus" (14:67). Read under the light of the formation pedagogy of Mark’s Gospel, such an affirmation is not limited to just the recognition that Peter had the same Galilean speech like Jesus; on the contrary, the phrase has a catechetical purpose and shows the challenge faced by him who had decided to be a disciple of Jesus. Peter, nonetheless, denies having been with Jesus.

It seems to me that this aspect is enough to affirm once more the intuition of our Founder. From here, he drew his conclusions for the area of formation as we shall see now. (return to summary)

Continued: The group master in the mind of Fr. Alberione - 1 -


           Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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