German Zilstra of Argentina and Director of the CONOSUR, the Latin American Association, has provided some theological foundations for the word itself and the framework for the organization (see Oikosnet: A Golbal Network).
“The word ‘OIKOSNET’ unites two very strong symbols for all Christians. They are contrasting symbols, and at the same time, complementary. The first is that of the concept of house (in Greek oikos). It is the symbol of the ideal community, the sharing of Christian sisters and brothers.
The pastoral task of Jesus, according to the gospels, is that of reconstructing homely relationships, shattered by the socio-political and religious situation of the time. The house is the sacred space where the community gathers for its celebrations, where the equality received in baptism is experienced.
In the house-community, according to Paul’s teachings, no differences can exist. “So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free, between men and women; you are all one in union with Jesus Christ” (Gal. 3:28). So, in baptism, the household should overcome all ethnic, racial and religious (Jew and Gentile) differences, as well as social, economic and political differences (slave and free), and all gender differences (men and women). The household is a concrete realization of the Kingdom, in the same way the created world is our home.The second symbol is that of the net (in Greek: diktyon). For the community the net is the symbol of apostolic labor. To ‘cast’ the net is to go out and meet the people who are searching for that which the community does not want to impose, but wants to share. In John’s Gospel (21: 1–14), the boat and the net represent the whole apostolic activity of the community. The nets are cast following ‘the word’ and the result is most gratifying: 153 different fish. And ‘even though there were so many, still the net did not tear.’
The interplay of these two symbols is extremely rich: the house represents stability; the net represents dynamism. The house represents security; the net represents risk and uncertainty. The house represents living together; the net represents the mutirao, the teamwork, the distribution of chores. The house represents celebration; the net represents mission. The house symbolizes the inside (internal life, spirituality); the net symbolizes the outside (external life, commitment, environment). The house represents affections, welcome; the net symbolizes aggression, violence. It is necessary to balance all this in apostolic life, in the development of God’s mission in the world. . . .”
For a look at Oikosnet centers themselves, go to www.oikosnet.org.
NOTE: In the summer of 2006, in the spirit of ‘house’ and ‘net,’ of diversity and global understanding, the Oikosnet Governing Board created a new constitution for its mission and members. It has been submitted to for approval in the Netherlands. In summary, the new constitution declares that Oikosnet will:
When the final English translation is available, we will put it on the ONA web site.