What does happiness taste like?

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40).

Gustavo Clarià, an Argentinean focolarino in Lima, recounts an experience that makes this Gospel passage come alive.  It’s  a  story that communicates a sense of joy that comes from small gestures that break down walls between people and make others happy.

The first time I saw him he was standing there, motionless, with something in his hands which, from a distance, I couldn’t quite make out. The double mask and the hat only allowed me a glimpse of his eyes. He caught my attention because he seemed to have no expression at all and was just staring into space.  As I drew closer, I saw that he was holding  a box of sweets. There was no doubt he was there to sell them, yet he did nothing, not even a gesture to offer them to the people who were passing by. I greeted him, but got no reply. When I left the church at the end Mass, I greeted him again, but there was no response. “This sad man must be my age,” I thought, “how unfair life seems sometimes. Yet God loves him immensely as he loves me.”

I promised myself that I would always greet him, but was this really what he expected? After all, he was there to do his job and obviously hoped that someone would notice. I decided to buy something. I’m not in the habit of spending money on sweets or eating them at any time, but I had to start somewhere. I stopped in front of him and took an interest in the variety of his products as if I were in a big sweet shop. After careful consideration, I chose a mint chocolate. I paid, thanked him and said goodbye, without eliciting any reaction. Exactly the same thing happened for several days.

I went away for about a month but then I returned and went to the parish Mass. He was still there, in the same place. I greeted him without expecting any response, but surprisingly, as he recognised me, a smile escaped his lips and he seemed happy to see me again. I could not believe it. During Mass, when it was time for the collection of offerings, I rummaged in my pocket and found a two euro coin. I was about to put it back in the basket when I thought: “Jesus  identifies with the people who suffer the most. With two euros I can buy some more sweets.”

On the way out I went to him and said, “What can you offer me today?” For the first time he looked at me and, with a complicit gesture, began to search in his box until he found what he wanted me to taste: “You will like it, it is a very good strawberry-flavoured chocolate and it costs two euros.” It didn’t seem real to me. It was the longest dialogue in the world. He had uttered a complete sentence just for me. I thanked him infinitely for his kindness and left happily. I can’t wait to see him again to confirm his choice: that strawberry chocolate was really good.

                         Gustavo E. Clarià



  • Bellisimo encuentro construido en el tiempo y la cercanía . Leerla me recordó que un día saliendo del banco, en una esquina muy transitada estaba un señor encorvado, en una silla de ruedas, sucio y con un gesto de ‘ muy pocos amigos’, ofreciendo a la venta bolsas de residuos. Pasé raudamente y con un sentimiento de rechazo casi instintivo. En el momento de cruzar la avenida, me paré y me dije ‘ es Jesús ‘ Volvi sobre mis pasos, ne acerqué y con el cuidado de acercarme al sagrario, le pregunté a cuanto vendía las bolsas. Mientras buscaba el dinero para pagarle, observé que buscaba con detenimiento darme las mejores. Gracias señor, gracias señora, sonó en una frecuencia armónica de paz. Al tomar la bolsa, leí en lestras amarillas la palabra Sol.
    No volví a pasar por esa esquina. Leer la experiencia de Gustavo, me inspira en volver a pasar a comprar otras ya que las adquiridas se están terminando.

  • Grazie d’averci fatto dono di questa esperienza.
    Il suo racconto è un balsamo per l’anima ed uno stimolo per non arrendersi alle logiche del tempo, ma di far nascere il Risorto dentro noi e con noi portarlo ovunque.

  • Che bello essere attratti dal fratello che soffre, voler condividere con lui la speranza che possa veder riaccendersi la fiamma del suo cuore . L’amore lo può sempre fare e a volte bisogna perseverare ♡

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