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JESUS, "THE MASTER"

in the spirituality according to Fr. Alberione

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

by Guido Gandolfo ssp

 

1. The first objective:
conformation with the Divine Master

The believer who desires to let himself be led by the Holy Spirit-for more reason, the Pauline, called to be a "spiritual man" – is invited to continually refer to the stupendous project which the Lord has prepared for him. Fr. Alberione has synthesized it in DF, in a passage of extraordinary density and beauty: a complete framework which gathers in rapid passages the marvelous initiative of God and the loving response of man.

Thus is man. — Having come out of the hands of God in order to glorify Him in eternity, man must make the journey of trial called life. The Father himself sent his Son, Master, to indicate, go through, make himself vehicle of man; hence man shall be judged at the end if he has made himself conformed to the Son: in his mind, will, life; in such conformity, there is love; in order that he who has loved may continue his love, the reward for all eternity; he who has not loved shall remain away from God for all eternity.

Inasmuch as the world is the imperfect kingdom of God because of human errors and the weeds; and eternity is the perfect kingdom of God and also for man: eternal glorification of God. "Faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram"; and the broken image of man is repaired by the Son of God, and it shall abound in beauty first through the Holy Spirit by overabundance of grace [DF 92-93].

Let us focus our attention, with a first reading, very briefly, of these lines which anticipate the conclusion of the first part of the Donec formetur. It is not difficult for us to see its spiritual horizon(4)  wherein Fr. Alberione moves and towards which he directs himself:

Having come out of the hands of God in order to glorify Him in eternity, man must make the journey of trial called life. — Man is called to life for a "journey of trial."(5) Such a journey has well defined coordinates: a point of departure identified in the "hands of God," to point out the loving attention with which God calls man to life and places him on earth, and a point of arrival which shall be the eternal glorification of the Most Holy Trinity.

The journey comports movement, dynamism, growth and development; it can foresee different stages and multiform experiences; it involves one to win over the inevitable moments of tiredness and frustration.

The trial points, as a first moment, to verification, test and examination. It includes as well the idea of continuous exercise: in our case, an apprenticeship for the indefectible glorification in eternity... (cf. nos. 43ff).

The Father himself sent his Son, Master. — God, after having created man and placed him in the world, does not abandon him to his destiny. On the contrary! In fact, He, Father of goodness, has given for a travel companion none other than his only Son: for this He sent his Son among us and for us.

The Son, Jesus Christ, is presented as the Master, Master not only because he occupies a teaching post but he teaches, but above all inasmuch as he wants to be made a part of the weave of man’s life and arrive at all the expressions either of thought or of human action:(6)

Fr. Alberione eventually wrote in 1961: "When Jesus says, ‘Magister vester unus est, Christus,’ it means that He is not only teacher, but the true and only Master, the perfect Master: he precedes by example: ‘I have given you an example,’ I give you my truth: ‘doctrina mea’: he gives life..."(7)

...to indicate, go through, make himself vehicle of man. — Here are indicated the orientations the Father has given the Son for his mission on earth. What are the tasks of the Divine Master?

...hence man shall be judged at the end if he has made himself conformed to the Son: in his mind, will, life; in such conformity, there is love.

The gift the Father has given to man, by sending him Jesus as Master, has a precise objective: to guide man in the conformation to His Son. Such conformation(8) involves the human person in the globality of his faculties and initiatives. It is a concept that is explained with three applications:

Such conformation shall be the fundamental content of the final judgment, as always a decisive prospective point. Let us take note how Fr. Alberione presents the moment of final judgment: not a tragic "settling of accounts," and not even as a series of rigorous questions to which one must answer, but as (although not something that involving) a moment of confrontation with the image of the Master to which the believer has tried to be configured for the whole life.(9)

Another point of great importance. From where does the commitment to be conformed with the Master originate? From love. First among everything, and soul of everything is love! Although, obviously, the inexchangeable contributions of intelligence and will are not set aside, Fr. Alberione hastens to clearly indicate the source of the whole dynamics of spiritual growth towards conformation with the Master: only love is capable of a start, only love sustains, only love explains everything.

It is love, note well, that is not born out of man’s initiative, but it is a duty-bound and spontaneous response to the love coming from God: that love for which "the Father has sent his Son, Master."

...in order that he who has loved may continue his love, the reward for all eternity; he who has not loved, remains excluded for always. — The prospective point of communion of man with the Most Holy Trinity is constantly projected in the life of the Christian, the religious: it enlightens him and captures its outlook thus becoming, in day-to-day life, the criterion of discernment for intentions and motivations. The eternal destiny that awaits man is seen as continuity consequent to the free choice made on earth. If man has responded to the project of love of the Father and has lived decidedly seeking conformation with the Son, the only Master, eternal life shall not be other than development without end and the greatest expression of such choice of love. The possibility of continuing always in the dynamics of love initiated on earth shall be the compensation for eternity: a condition of ineffable joy and permanence.

If man has not welcomed the gift and consciously made contrary choice, such a determination shall continue for all eternity: he shall then remain excluded for always from the love of God. As one can see, Fr. Alberione does not speak of "condemnation" or of "punishment" by God: he seems to think, in stead, to the suffering of the Father in not being able to welcome such a man, obstinate and rebellious, in the joy of the eternal abode prepared for his faithful children.

Inasmuch as the world is the imperfect kingdom of God because of human errors and the weeds; and eternity is the perfect kingdom of God and also for man: eternal glorification of God. — As if to support the proposed indications – man’s vocation to conform with the Master, given him by the Father as gift and as travel companion – Fr. Alberione advances a dual "argument." Man’s conformation with the Lord Jesus is a remedy to the evil of sin ("human errors") and against the harmful work of the "enemy" (weeds), which makes the kingdom of God "imperfect" on this earth. At the same time, it is precisely the response to the Father that allows man, conformed with the Son of God, to offer his contribution in order that eternity should really be "the perfect kingdom of God and also for man". The holiness of man, conformed to the only Son of God, is therefore authentically apostolate for the spread of the kingdom of God and of his Gospel.

"Faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram"; and the broken image of man is repaired by the Son of God, and it shall abound in beauty first through the Holy Spirit by overabundance of grace. — It is now possible to admire the splendid result obtained from the encounter between the initiative coming from the Divine Trinity and the cooperation of man. The initial image of the Trinity which used to qualify man has been spoiled by sin. It is, however, repaired by the Son, thanks to his salvific sacrifice. Not only that, but by virtue of the "overabundance of grace" which the Holy Spirit pours into the soul, the new image "shall abound in beauty."

In brief

The indispensable commitment to assume the form of the Master

Summary

       Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever   A historical-charismatic survey

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