An open letter from Belgium

Samuel“March 22cnd will be forever marked by the cowardly attacks in the airport and in the metro in Brussels. They were actions of people who were not able to see love of neighbour as a priority in life, precisely during the days of Easter, a feast that proclaims: Love conquers all.

It’s been a week in which feelings of deep hatred and a sense that God is requiring us to love every neighbour. That’s certainly not easy in moments like these. It’s in our nature to find perptrator. That’s what’s happening here in Belgium. We wonder where we went wrong and who was responsible for the radicalisation of that human being.

It was also a week filled with novel questions for me. It’s been like constantly writing little letters to God and running every day  to the mailbox to see if He’s answered them yet.     

It’s even worse when my own friends wonder why I still defend Muslims:  ‘It’s all because of them,’ they say. ‘We should send them home. Why give to the refugees, and then they do away with us?’ I came to realize that I had to keep on doing the same exercise over and over again: to put myself in the skin of my friends who perhaps have not had the good fortune of experiencing God so near to them. Perhaps they haven’t realised that He is the only one that can give the answer: an answer of Love. They feel the fear that pushes them to prefer security and their own future. My effort was to show them the other side of the story: ‘Those people (the terrorists) aren’t Muslims. Islam embodies values that spread love. But when you try to do that, you are always met with resisitence.

The wound is still fresh. I was hoping that I’d be able to bring enough healing to the wounds, but a complete cure will take time. This Good Friday I returned to my house weary and fed up with caring for “the wounds”. I can well imagine that it must have been a very hard week for the people who were on the front lines, caring for the wounded in body and in spirit.

It is said that the young people of today don’t dare to express their faith. We no longer dare to talk about the things we believe in for fear of being cast from society. We no longer dare to do what we believe should be done. Perhaps it’s not fear of expressing ourselves, but tiredness because believing in Christian ideals is a tiring venture. The faith of Belgium is so exceptional and should muster up the strength to uphold its values.

The young people choose to stop believing in order to avoid criticism. And this made me understand once more the strength of the ideal of peace and unity that Chiara Lubich taught us. It’s a sort of “cafe” for our weariness. It helps us to smile when we’re presented with cynical questions from our friends. These become opportunities for sharing our message . . . that’s the reason I follow Jesus!

I’d like to ask God for more fire than I had before, a fire that lights candles in the hearts of young people. Candles that will enable us to look at one another in a positive light instead of criticising each other, so that the downward spiral will become an upward spiral and the faith will become a celebration rather than a preoccupation. A place where each of us can find the key to build a world in which attacks like those of March 22nd never happen again.”




  • Merci Samuel, ton message est réconfortant et très encourageant. Je vais le lire ce soir à mon groupe parole de vie, sûre qu’il fera du bien et redonnera du courage à tous pour tenir bon.
    Bien avec toi pour garder le cap.

  • Avec des jeunes comme toi Samuel, nous pouvons affronter l’utopie de l’ut omnes avec conviction , courage et l’espérance pour le future. Je suis avec toi à porter le “remede” de l’amour à l’humanité.

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