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News from RELAF #38 (Lasallian Region of Africa)

Posted on 6 April 2021

The articles proposed here have led me to meditate on the particular way in which we, Lasallian educators, transform the world. Our mission, modestly seen, could be summed up as making the world more fraternal. But seeking to bring about a more fraternal global world can lead us to confuse the world with "the global". For us, transforming the world in-depth does not mean acting on a global level, in the sense of an action coming from above, from the highest possible level. The mistake to be avoided is that of reducing Christian charity to a universal philanthropic work, endowed with important human and financial resources, a voluntaristic work, full of good conscience and good feelings.

It is important to note that the fraternal bond involved in Christian charity is different from an ideological or contractual bond. It is based on the brotherhood already established by Jesus Christ. The fraternal bond established by Jesus Christ is both incarnate and unconditional because it involves flesh and blood beings of all conditions, cultures and nations. The brotherhood established by Jesus Christ does not undo blood bonds. Blood is the symbol of life that flows from one person to another, through the generations. Under our African skies, we often speak of blood brotherhood, but there is also the exchange of blood that creates a kinship between two strangers and their descendants. The question is always whether our blood bonds bind us or tie us down, whether they are inclusive or exclusive, whether they dispose us to welcome the widow and the orphan, the poor and the foreigner or not. Tribal or national fraternities are multiple and can be disruptive even in the Lasallian mission. We must beware of this.

Blood is life in the form of a generosity which precedes us and of which we are not the owners. On it depends the effectiveness of our breath. The bloodstream brings oxygen to the cells and removes carbon dioxide. The blood thus leads us to the frontier between the material and the spiritual. As the vehicle of the breath of life, it is at the same time the symbol of a shared life. By living charity in brotherhood, we really share the life of Christ, the life of God. This life of God does not destroy human life in us, but brings it to another dimension of existence. Let us say, to use an image borrowed from physics, that it expands our heart. What we bring to the educational mission is a breath, a fire, that of the Holy Spirit. From this comes our particular way of transforming the world: "touching hearts". John-Baptist De La Salle tells us on what condition this can be done: "Try to perform all your actions in a spirit of prayer. "

The charity operates by dilating our heart of flesh2. We are naturally attached to a world by our body and by our heart. Before wanting to transform the world, whether it is the one in which we were born or the one in which we live our mission, we must start by welcoming it. The spirit of charity asks us never to forget the moment of gratitude for this body and this heart that I am, and which make me a member of a human family, of a culture, an inhabitant of a land, of a nation to which I have duties. It asks me not to forget either that I am a son of God. As a son of God, I am not the exclusive property of any historical society, of any culture and, as such, I must work for active equality, for a fraternity without borders between the men and women of this world.

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