Belonging to a BEC helps to strengthen our faith

This year being the Extraordinary Missionary Year, he charged us to be witnesses outside the Church. While we feel good and proud that we are serving

Jun 13, 2019

Dear Editor,
I write in response to an exhortation by a priest to become involved in BEC and how we should transform our community into a new Jerusalem. It was the fifth Sunday of Easter and the first reading was about Paul and Barnabas preaching in Antioch and the surrounding cities. The second reading was on how we are to love one another and the gospel reading on the new Jerusalem. He connected all the readings very beautifully and urged us to not be concerned and smug about being involved in ministries within the church.It is no big deal. The real work is outside .

This year being the Extraordinary Missionary Year, he charged us to be witnesses outside the Church. While we feel good and proud that we are serving in ministries in the church, it is not enough. We should not stop there. We should be effective outside the Church, transforming our communities into a new Jerusalem, adding that the new Jerusalem is not somewhere in the distant future but within our reach. It is where we live, where we work and where we meet people.

The BEC concept was introduced in the 1970s and today, almost 50 years later, it has still not really taken root. Most of our BECs are not functioning as they should, being little churches in the area where we reside. Gatherings are not well attended. We make time and sacrifices for many other activities but when it comes to a BEC gathering we will give excuses. Only the senior citizens attend, gatherings are boring, people gather to gossip, it’s a waste of time, it’s for those who have nothing better to do……What has actually gone wrong?

BECs are made up of people and probably that’s why we shy away from it. Because when we are with people we can get hurt, we can experience disappointment, we can be belittled…It is where differences of opinions and ideas will cause division and tension. But it is also the place where we grow, where we learn to put aside our differences, where we reach out and where we can learn to accommodate, tolerate and love one another. It is a place to belong.

The criterion of true Christian spirituality, affirmed by the Gospel over and over again, is the practical and concrete love of neighbour which leads us to make sacrifices of our own desires, convenience and comfort, in order to meet the needs of others. Christ’s commandment goes even further: Love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12) What is this essential aspect of Christ’s love and how can we live it? (Fr Thomas Keating)

The BEC is one place where we can live this out practically. I remember how the BEC came together at my dad’s, and then my mum’s, passing. They were also there to visit and pray while my mum was immobile. We were overwhelmed by the love and support of the community during the wakes and the prayers that followed that touched us deeply.

It is only when we attend BEC gatherings that we get to know each other better. The BEC is a faith community. The reason we meet is because of our belief in the One Lord Jesus Christ. In this community then, we will grow in faith as we share the word of God and our testimonies of faith. As we grow stronger in faith as a community, we can then transform it into a new Jerusalem! Unless we share our faith it will not grow. It will remain stagnant and, eventually, we lose it. Let us then make an effort to belong to a BEC. And not wait till an emergency like a death in the family to start frantically searching for the BEC we are in.

It is no longer an option.

Margaret Boey Penang

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