More than a choice, at the beginning of the life of Jesus, the adhesion to reality was assumed in the womb of Mary, among the shocks, shaking and jolts on the back of the donkey, during the long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to obey the decree of Caesar Augustus for the census of the whole earth (Lk 2: 1-5).
And when the feet of the Son of God touched the ground, it was not certainly the smooth floor of an imperial palace or of the temple of Jerusalem to sustain them, but they adhered to the hardness and the roughness of the manger at his birth, to the dust of the Palestine during the continuous travelling of his itinerant ministry, to the wood of the cross at the end of his life.
The concreteness of the reality is inevitable in a poor and far off village like Nazareth, in which life is a fight and a daily gift granted by heaven; it is in this reality that Jesus, in contact with nature, would contemplate the gestures of the sowing, the flower of the fields and the birds of the sky, the leaven in the flour dough in the hands of Mary, the shepherds who count their sheep at the sunset and call them one by one to come out of the sheepfold in the morning. From this contemplative look at the reality matured during his childhood, Jesus draws the images to speak about the Kingdom of God, about the Father and his own life to the crowds. Jesus chooses the language of the parables in his announcement of the Kingdom of God which starts from the reality and which sometimes steps away from it, in order to help his listeners to understand, to get involved, to take position, to sense the paternity of God, to feel his closeness.
This missionary choice becomes the style of his encounters: he doesn’t withdraw from the crowds which assail him after sunset asking him to cure the sick and the people possessed by evil spirits (Mk 1;32); Jesus doesn’t avoid the harsh reality of a man with the withered hand in the synagogue on a sabbath day, but he calls him to stand in the middle so that this mute cry of salvation may challenge those present (Mk 3;1 – 6); he doesn’t withdraw from the hard calumnies of the scribes and doctors of the law (Mk 3;22 ss), from the touch of the impure woman (Mk 5:27 and Lk 8: 37-39); he doesn’t withdraw not even from his destiny which slowly unfolds in front of him, to be rejected, to suffer and being killed (Mk 8:31), but he adheres to it, he resolutely turned his face towards Jerusalem.
And, as a good master, Jesus tries to orient his disciples too, to the same adhesion to reality: unmasking elegant escapes and bringing them back to assume their own responsibilities in front of the hungry and tired crowds (Mt 14:13-20) ; inviting them to that freedom which is superior to the sabbath law (Lk 6:1-5); bringing quickly back to earth the ideas of the messianic omnipotence of Peter (Mk 16: 21-23) and the desire of career of the sons of Zebedee and of their mother (Mt 10: 20-23).
But the deepest adhesion to reality, to our human, frail, limited reality, is perhaps the most difficult to learn and to live: that suspected introduced by the father of lie in our fore fathers (Gn 3:1-5) which pushes us to unnatural choices, in a continuous competition with God, with our brothers and sisters, in hoarding of things, roles and affections in order to cover the fear of our naked reality. Jesus came for this too: for “opening to us again the way and giving to us again the opportunity of inserting us again in our originary creatures’ condition of peace and harmony” (G. Forlai, Il mondo rovesciato, Ed. San Paolo).
Sr. Silvia Serra, General Direction
Sr. Silvia Serra, Missionary Sister of the Immaculate, a Missionary in South Brazile for 17 years, has done her Biblical studies in CEBI (Centro Ecumenico di Studi Biblici ) in Sao Paolo, and obtained a specialization in Biblical counseling at the EST University of San Leopoldo, Rio Grande Do Sul. She is currently at the service of the historical office of the Congregation.