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Brother Alois (from Taize) gives a catechesis on the Christ of Communion

” The first day of this Eucharistic Congress wishes to deepen the meaning of our common baptismal faith. Mutual recognition of baptism among the various Churches is a great gift that God has given us in the last century.

Despite the certainty expressed by the apostle Paul: “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4, 5), this recognition has not always been obvious. Definitively concluding a long period often marked by suspicion, the Second Vatican Council asserted confidently: “Baptism establishes a sacramental bond of unity which links all who have been reborn by it” (Unitatis Redintegratio, no. 22).

Can I allow myself today to illustrate the question of the meaning of our common baptismal faith by sharing with you our experience in the Taizé Community? The life we live in Taizé is intimately linked to the rediscovery of our common baptism as, in the words of Vatican II, a “beginning, an inauguration wholly directed toward the fullness of life in Christ” (ibid.).

Our experience in Taizé is of course far from covering all aspects of the question. But it can be shown that—and I continue to quote Vatican II—on the one hand, baptism is already “the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who have been reborn by it” and that, secondly, it commits us to continually seek “a complete profession of faith, complete incorporation into the system of salvation such as Christ willed it to be, and finally complete ingrafting into eucharistic communion” (ibid.).

I want to tell you specifically how we seek to highlight the unity of the faith that baptism implies and to anticipate it, both between the brothers of the community and with the young people of all denominations whom we receive week after week on our hill. And since Brother Roger, the founder of our community, participated in the entire Second Vatican Council, whose fiftieth anniversary we are celebrating, I would also like to speak about his personal journey, since he opened an original way to head towards the visible unity of Christians.

In the early days of our community, writing the Rule of Taizé, Brother Roger addressed to every brother of the community the appeal, “Make the unity of the Body of Christ your passionate concern.” It is that passion which fills our hearts.

If you had asked Brother Roger what the essential of the Christian faith was, the focal-point of the faith confessed in baptism, he might have quoted the words of Saint John, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). For him, the heart of the Gospel was there. The vision of God as a stern judge had wreaked havoc in the consciences of many. He took the opposite tack, affirming that “all God can do is love.”

He would also sometimes tell the young people gathered in Taizé, “If Christ were not risen, we would not be here.” The resurrection is central to the faith; it is a sign that God loves without limits. It brought together the disciples dispersed by Good Friday and it continues to bring Christians together; its first fruit is the new communion born of its mystery.

The centre of our faith is Christ, the Risen Lord present among us, who is in a personal bond of love with us and who by a common baptism brings us together. Brother Roger called this reality “the Christ of communion.”

In his last book, published a few weeks before his death, Brother Roger wrote: “Christ is communion…. He did not come to earth to start one more religion, but to offer to all a communion in God… ‘Communion’ is one of the most beautiful names of the Church.”

Personally, I can say that it was this vision of the Church as communion that struck me on my first visit to the hill of Taizé. Still very young, I was impressed on the one hand by the prayer and silence, but also by the communion which was lived out concretely—the Gospel lived not individually, but in community. And I can affirm that, as a Catholic, it was in Taizé that I discovered more deeply the catholicity of the Church.

Reconciliation in the Body of Christ

I would like now to begin with the question: what do the words “the Body of Christ” mean, and why is reconciliation in the Body of Christ so important?

In the letters that St. Paul addressed to various communities of his time, he refers to the Church as the “Body of Christ” to try to help them understand the mystery of the unity between Christ and Christians, and the mystery of unity between Christians. “You are a body,” he writes to the Corinthian Christians, “and this body is Christ, each of you is a part of it” (1 Cor 12:27)

Baptism is the foundation of the unity of this body. That is why he writes: “In the one Spirit we were all baptised into a single body.”(1 Cor 12:13)

Forming one body in Christ, we belong to each other. “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor 1:13), Paul asks, concerned at seeing the Christians of the same community separate from one another. And he called for them to be reconciled.

His words remain so relevant today: there is only one baptism, and you are the Body of Christ, so do not waste so much energy in opposition, sometimes even within your Churches.

Communion Received as a Gift

On the eve of his passion, Christ prayed, “May they all be one! As you, Father, are in me and I in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).

Often the words “may all be one” are construed as a command to be put into practice. But they express first of all the gift that Christ gives to humankind: he bears us within himself; he brings us with himself into the communion of the Holy Trinity; he makes us “sharers in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). He does not only pray that all may be one but that they may be one “in us”.

Christ asks that “all” may be one: this gift is not restricted to a few individuals; it is offered to all those who bear the name of Christ, and is intended for all human beings.

This communion in God accomplished through baptism is an exchange. In becoming flesh, God chooses to take on human frailty. He comes to live amidst our divisions and our pain. Christ meets us at the lowest point; he becomes one of us so as better to reach out his hand to us. In him God welcomes our humanity and, in exchange, he gives us the Holy Spirit, his own life. The Virgin Mary is forever the guarantee that this exchange is real; she sustains our hope that it will lead to the life of humanity in God.

We can be immensely grateful to Orthdox theology for having demonstrated this in such a profound way. Last year I went with some of my brothers and 250 young people from across Europe to take part in the Holy Week celebrations with the Orthodox Church in Moscow. “Christ is risen,” we repeated umpteen times on Easter night. And I felt down to the depths of my being the certainty that Christ enables us to participate in his resurrection already here on earth.

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