…In a way, it was Bolivia that changed my life to a great extent. On the morning of December 25th, walking through the city, I found a Square with hundreds of small children and people. By the Sisters, I came to know that these children were gathering to wait for the Franciscan Friars, who were going to distribute a few sweets and biscuits. They waited for hours.
I saw a lady on a bench sitting with 5 very small children. There was a sort of expressionless look on the face of that young mother, whose children were all so beautiful and friendly. I sat alongside them and took a photo. There was a small boy of about six years holding his younger sister. What magnificent children. But they were hungry, untidy, and poorly dressed in the very cold winter.
Don’t those kids have the same right as any kid in another country, where they are covered with toys to play with? Doesn’t this world and its riches belong to them as well?
Though individually we may not be able to blame anybody in particular, why do certain countries and systems continue to exploit the poor, to fill up their treasuries? And yet the discontentment with the abundance that they have!
It is this experience that made me coin the phrase explaining my mission: "Make a child smile again"! Those children had no smile on their face anymore! Yet a few biscuits would have made them smile again. They do not need great gifts, but very small gifts. Above all, a drop of HUMANITY.
Again recalling the great Pope of Peace, Pius XII, “mankind owes that vow to the innumerable sorrowing host of mothers, widows and orphans who have seen the light, the solace and the support of their lives wrenched from them… Mankind owes that vow to the flood of tears and bitterness, to the accumulation of sorrow and suffering,” among the innocent people born in a world that denounces the downtrodden.
As I write these lines, it is almost midnight; yet I knew I must write them today to express my convictions from earlier this morning. Once again, there was the discussion about the meaning of the word "mission". Should it be "mission ad gentes" or"apostolate”? What is our charismatic identity?
Of course, conceptual clarity and Church teaching are all important. But let us be careful: do not forget the people of God, the person created in the image and likeness of God…