Living the Gospel: feeling that we are part of a big family

We are often immersed in a culture than regards aggression as the key to success. This aggression can be expressed in a variety of ways.
In contrast, the Gospel presents us with a paradox. We can look on our weaknesses, our limits and our fragility as the starting point in relating to God and in participating with him in the greatest of challenges – the unity of the entire human family.

Because of the economic crisis in our country, work was decreasing and our income was growing smaller and smaller. Our customers were no longer sending orders. At home, we reduced our expenses and tried to live on less. I began to spend more time with the children so that the situation would not affect them too much and I even learned to fall asleep at night in spite of knowing we were in debt. I began to pray again and to believe very firmly in the words of the Gospel that say, “Give and it will be given to you.” We experienced the truth of this almost every day. We did everything we could to increase our income – we collected newspapers, cartons, cans and glass bottles to sell. Even the children went to sell bags of sweets. Many people came to us to ask for food and we often gave away the only thing we had left. One day my wife gave a kilo of rice to someone and the very same evening, we received two kilos of lentils. A neighbour of ours left a car outside the front door and said, “Use it for now and pay me for it when you can.” This meant that we could take our third daughter who has Down’s syndrome for the treatment she needed.
(M.T. – Chile)

Growing as parents
We had noticed that our son was changing and behaving in a different way. One day, I very delicately asked him if anything was wrong. He confided in me that he was using drugs. I told my husband and neither of us slept a wink that night. We felt helpless and thought we had failed as parents. Joao sometimes brought friends home and their behaviour made us suffer too. My husband and I realised that we had to make a choice and we decided to love and serve those boys. To support our son, we cancelled our holiday so that he would not be alone. At the same time, the certainty that love would win began to grow in us. One day Joao told us that he wanted to continue living in our family home and asked if we could help his friends too. A new life began. Although we had no formation or training other than living the Gospel, we founded a support group in our city for the families of drug addicts. It is called Families Anonymous. This group has helped many young people recover from drug addiction.
(O.P. – Portugal)

We heard that a young Albanian refugee was looking for accommodation and so we helped him in his search and, temporarily, let him stay in our house. Our relatives did not agree with what we were doing and created lots of problems. They even said that we were being naïve. Maybe because the relationship with them was so strained, we found a very deep unity and strength as a couple and this helped us to persevere. After a short time, we found a suitable flat to rent and a local craftsman we know decided to hire an Albanian worker. We went to the refugee detention centre together to fill out the necessary documentation. The centre made a big impact on us all – hundreds of people were waiting for accommodation. We felt powerless but eventually our craftsman friend decided to hire not one but three Albanians. One of them was a minor so he personally provided foster care. It only took a few months for the three young people to find permanent work and become integrated into the community where we have tried to involve as many people as possible to make them feel part of a big family.
(H.E. – Italy)

My fiancée, Giorgia, wants to get married in a church. To do so, we both need a confirmation certificate. I don’t have one so I have joined a confirmation preparation class. At first, it all seemed simple but when I found myself listening to catechism lessons with boys a lot younger than me, it seemed too much and I wanted to give up. Giorgia, however, didn’t change her mind, she’s convinced of the value of the sacrament of marriage. There seemed to be a block in our relationship and we postponed the date of the wedding. There were months of hard work and questions to face. I’m trained to see the Church as an outdated institution and there I was, begging for a certificate. What made me angry was that for Giorgia this was not a formality but a way of setting up the family. Our relationship began to break down but, just at that point, my mother was involved in an accident and was left paralyzed.
Giorgia went to visit her every day and my mother found that she was not only a friend but that her presence helped her to calmly face her situation.
I understood that Giorgia has deep motives to make her act that way. Every doubt in me disappeared: no matter what it costs, she is the woman with whom I want to share my life.
(M.A. – Italy)

Edited by Stefania Tanesini
(taken from Il Vangelo del Giorno, Città Nuova, anno VI, n.1, gennaio-febbraio 2020)

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