domination and poised to crush all who are in its way. Real power is strong enough to be open-handed, vulnerable, ready to serve and empower others. It is self-forgetful and moves out to others in love. It stoops down, and lifts up. In Christ, “master,” the word of power, takes on a new face and energy source. Christ is Master, indeed, but a master with the heart of a shepherd, a servant, a friend, a lover. One passage from Isaiah brings out the contrast between the power of Christ MasterShepherd and worldly power: Here is Lord Yahweh coming with power, his arm maintains his authority, his reward is with him and his prize precedes him. He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, Gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes (Is 40:10-11).
In the realm of knowledge, Christ Master Teacher comes bearing divine truth—a truth superior to human wisdom, a truth that shatters and turns upside down the usual categories of human thinking and re-frames the entire perspective on life. But that truth breaks upon the person only to expand and elevate his vision and his very being. It is communicated as secrets are shared between friends and lovers, secrets that reveal the Lover’s mind and heart in a gesture of profound trust and vulnerability. “I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father” (Jn 15:15). Christ Master’s way to genuine fulfillment and happiness is a journey of self-emptying and self-transcendence, at the service of others and ultimately of the Other, God himself. He who could rightfully have claimed his followers’ service and submission came among them as one who serves. He washed their feet. He gave his life for them. Jesus Master Way, the royal road to life, is not satisfied with simply indicating that way; he himself opened it up for us, braving its perils, tasting its fatigue in his own person. He walks ahead as guide and model, and at the same time walks the way at our side, smoothing out difficulties, comforting, healing, strengthening, inspiring. And what of Jesus, Master of Life? Earthly masters glory in subjecting other lives to their own, feeding on others, exploiting and diminishing the very being of others. Jesus Life, instead, gives his followers unlimited access to his own vital energy, to the infinitely superior quality of his undying life which transforms them even as it unites them to him in an intimacy that fulfills the human heart’s deepest longings for communion. He gave his life for his own that he might share his life with them. He nourishes that life, cultivates it, makes it grow. This is the Master at the heart of the Pauline formation project. And it is particularly relevant to the present Asian situation. EA states: …the Synod Fathers stressed many times the need to evangelize in a way that appeals to the sensibilities of Asian peoples, and they suggested images of Jesus which would be intelligible to Asian minds and cultures and, at the same time, faithful to Sacred Scripture and Tradition. Among them were “Jesus Christ as the Teacher of Wisdom, the Healer, the Liberator, the Spiritual Guide, the Enlightened One, the Compassionate Friend of the Poor, the Good Samaritan, the Good Shepherd, the Obedient One.” …In the midst of so much suffering among Asian peoples, he might best be proclaimed as the Savior “who can provide meaning to those undergoing unexplainable pain and suffering” (EA 20, emphasis added).
Dialogue between Alberione and Asian Traditions of the Spiritual Masters.