Just like Jesus, we too can approach our neighbour without fear and be by their side walking together through difficult and joyful times, appreciating their gifts, sharing material and spiritual goods, encouraging, giving hope and forgiving.
The art of teaching
During the pandemic, like many of my colleagues, I started giving lessons online. In the beginning it was a novelty so there was a high level of participation among the children but with time some of the craftier ones found ways to do something else and slowly lost interest in the lessons. Faced with such a variety of responses to my commitment to them, I tried not to show preference or approval but tried to highlight the importance of taking personal responsibility which was certainly more difficult in those times of crisis. The real dilemma, however, was when I had to pass judgment because it was clear to me that the written work they sent me lacked originality and was probably copied. One day I asked the pupils how they would act in my place. It was an opportunity for them to really reflect on their own participation or non-participation. And what really moved me was that they made their own judgment. I don’t think I have ever experienced a life lesson like it before.
(G.P. – Slovenia)
Overcoming the crisis together
We were unable to have children and this “defeat” meant that we both focused on our careers but after 24 years, our marriage was in crisis. It was as if he had slipped away from me. When I understood that we were moving from young love to adult love, I decided I had to make the first move and asked my husband to come with me to see a counsellor. When we got back home, he was visibly upset and confessed that he had no idea I had been suffering so much and apologized. I asked God for help and I prayed. It felt right that I should leave the job that had led me to excel in my career and I tried to be more present at home, more affectionate and understanding. It took a lot of kindness and patience but now our relationship has matured and is no longer tied to expressions that had seemed so important to us when we were young. Today I hear myself saying things that would have been unthinkable a few years ago, like: “I couldn’t live without you”. We are like two companions on a journey each striving to realize God’s plan on both of us united.
(S.T – Italy)
A teenage grandson
During the time when schools were closed due to the pandemic, my teenage nephew became more aggressive than ever. We live in the same house and I would say that, as a grandmother, I had brought him up, sometimes replacing his parents; I also accompanied him through difficult moments with his school friends and teachers. One day his reaction to some food he didn’t like was quite offensive. My first thoughts were to judge him harshly but instead I decided to be the first to love by going into the kitchen to prepare a quick dessert that I knew he liked. When he recognised the smell coming from the oven, he came up to me, hugged me and asked for forgiveness. I didn’t say anything to him, and just acted as if nothing had happened. Then he started to open up and we had the kind of dialogue we hadn’t had for a long time. When his parents came back, to my surprise, he said that, unlike his classmates, he felt privileged to have his grandmother living in the same house.
(P.B. – Slovakia)
No more complaints
Often, instead of being grateful to God for what we have and sharing it with those who don’t have, we complain about the food we do not like, how small our houses are, certain clothes we don’t have and so on. We forget that Jesus believes that everything we do to our brother is done to Him. It was Hurricane Mary that made me and other friends change our attitude, giving us a strong impulse to look at the needs of others. It was also Hurricane Mary that had caused a lot of suffering and destruction in our country. Among the many people who had been left homeless was the family of one of my classmates: his parents and their six children who had been living in a basement flat had lost everything. Together with the other classmates I made a list of the things they needed and we organised a collection with the much appreciated help of the altar boys in my parish. When we went to hand over the “providence” we had collected, we were really moved to see with what joy and emotion our friend and his family received everything.
(Némesis – Puerto Rico)
edited by Stefania Tanesini
(taken from Il Vangelo del Giorno, Città Nuova, year VI, no.5, September-October 2020)
1 C. Lubich, Parola di Vita October 1995, in Parole di Vita, edited by F. Ciardi (Works of Chiara Lubich 5), Città Nuova, Rome 2017, pp. 564-565.