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Little brothers of Jesus - Message of the Chapter

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October 29, 2014

MESSAGES - La Storta (Italy September 6-30, 2014). When we entered into the hall of the Chapter (the General Assembly which brought together delegates from the countries where the Fraternity is present) it was the world which was invited to our table. We heard our brothers speak about the war in Syria and Iraq with wave upon wave of displaced persons who lost everything; of the violence of armed groups in Nigeria; of daily fear and death in Columbia. We have heard people speak of the unemployed and of those who cannot live in a dignified manner. Also present were those who try to enter Western countries; those who perished trying to cross deserts and seas in overcrowded ships, those who are refused entrance and sent back. We have also spoken of the everyday violence in our neighborhoods and the insurmountable misery which dehumanizes. We don’t know who is running our world anymore; the anonymous “big shots”, “hidden” interests which make the decisions “upstairs”, decisions which weigh heavy on those who are “downstairs”.

In 1994, Rene Voillaume wrote: “Perhaps we are going to enter an epoch of the history of the human race which will be a time of compassion, in the powerlessness of finding solutions to the problems which are arising". Endure with the others, suffer together when the future is blocked and no light shines on the horizon: this is the “compassion” that some of our brothers are called to live because they have chosen to remain with their people in times of distress. They are constantly present in our thoughts and in our prayers, with a sentiment of immense gratitude because they are holding on in spite of their weaknesses and fears.

There was a question which troubled us as we listened to these stories:

“How do we remain human in these times of fear and violence?”

What makes us human and gives us joy, is to live with the “little people”, “everyday people”, those who are without name nor influence.

With time – for we must persevere – they have shown us that they are our brothers and sisters. They have their defects, their obvious defects; our defects are also obvious! The fact of recognizing our weaknesses without fear, makes us grow in humanity. Dialogue with a “strong” person is impossible, he doesn’t need anything. When someone knows that he is needy, he can search alongside the others, bring the little he has and travel together.

The “little people” have taught us that it is necessary to come with one’s heart and love tenderly. We too receive from them tenderness and confidence and that makes us live!...Confidence opens the heart and the person can give the best of himself. To give time and attention to someone in whom nobody is interested, makes us discover hidden treasures of humanity and goodness. Like deep sea divers, we discover marvels that God alone knew.

Evil and death are present very day. But the list is long, daily, of reactions against the tide to maintain life, protect it and make it grow: discrete mutual aid among neighbors; those who risk their lives to allow others to live in Syria and other places where violence reigns; the persons who died to save others in the shipwreck of the Korean ferry; groups of dialogue between Palestinians and Israelites who have lost people close to them through violence; groups which form links in contexts where everything pushes towards the rejection of the other because he is different; all those who come together to receive displaced persons or help migrants to integrate.

We see these gestures of profound humanity, be they great or small. And, in faith, we see them as sparks of the Glory of God, signs of His Kingdom, the active presence of His Spirit in the hearts of men and women. Like Moses, with respect and admiration, we hear the invitation: “Remove your sandals for the ground you stand on is holy.”

We want to continue to live with our people on this earth which is dry and holy, with our eyes wide open….

What makes us human and leaves us full of wonder is to ceaselessly return to the Gospel in order to find Jesus there, the “Son of Man”, the man par excellence.

We have been seduced by the visage of Jesus of Nazareth and by his way of restoring what is human: he shatters everything which excludes: he goes to the people that everyone runs away from: he touches and lets himself be touched by those judged to be impure: he recognizes rectitude and love, whatever might be its source, be it from a stranger or someone of another faith….

Through looking at Jesus live and act, we discover something: the Gospel is written for our world of today because it is written from the perspective of the life of “everyday” people. The man or woman of ill repute, whom everyone looks down on, this person lives in our neighborhood: the poor person who would like to reciprocate invitations but who hasn’t the means to do so is someone who crosses our path every day; the good person who draws out what is best in the treasure of his religion, lives in the house across the street.

To be truly human, we feel the need to pray. To expose ourselves at length to the light of God, simply because He is God, because He knows us and loves us. And so that He might transform our heart and that of those who surround us into the image of the heart of Jesus, full of compassion and vigor, of tenderness and energy. So that He might give us His way of seeing things.

Prayer of poor human beings with their feet on the ground. Prayer which is sometimes painful and without response: “My God, why have you abandoned me?”; sometimes joyful and full of generosity: “Blessed are You for having hidden this from the wise and savants and for having revealed it to these little ones!”.

What makes us human and gives us hope is to live all that with our brothers and to journey together: there we find joy and support.
We don’t talk of this very often. Surely it’s because building a fraternal relationship is a difficult task which is never finished. To keep trying with perseverance is the little contribution we make to the construction of a fraternal humanity and it is a sign of hope.

But it is also a joy to share with our brothers a same desire to respectfully love each person as did Jesus of Nazareth; and it is a support to interpret together the life we share with people, knowing that our brothers will not abandon us on the way.

To pray together, to let ourselves be shaped by God together, to listen together to His Word  which tells us how, in all its forms, God believes in humanity; all that nourishes our hope.

We would like to say a word to our older brothers:
All that we have written here is something you have lived enthusiastically and we have received it from you. Do not believe that everything has stopped because old age has set in or when you are in a nursing home; we can keep our bonds until the very end, be attentive to the “little” person, love tenderly. We are counting on you!

And a word for our young brothers:
Perhaps you are worried because we are so few. Perhaps we did not know how to hand over to you that which fills our heart with joy and happiness, in this chosen proximity to the “little people” in the footsteps of Jesus.

Look at how Jesus acts, make yourselves close to the “little people”, let yourself be loved by them and your heart will be set afire.
We need your enthusiasm.

How can we not mention that which is a great sign of hope for us: the message and repeated invitations of Pope Francis to go to the peripheries and take upon one’s self the odor of the flock, to risk an accident outside rather than resting indoors. Just a few words from Francis:
“We cannot become starched Christians, Christians too well brought up, who speak of theological theories while tranquilly sipping tea. No! We should become courageous Christians and go out to seek those who are precisely the flesh of Christ!  (…) That is the problem: the flesh of Christ, touch the flesh of Christ, take upon ourselves this suffering for the poor.”

Text approved unanimously by the Chapter, September 26, 2014




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