10/02/2012, 00.00
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Following Jesus I've done things I never thought I could do

by P. Mario Ghezzi
The testimony of a PIME missionary in Cambodia for 12 years. "I was a priest, pastor, chaplain, builder, liturgist, economist, teacher, manager and so on and so forth. In my life I have known countries and people that I never thought to encounter. The lat 12 years have all been a happy surprise, even evil and sin in the end have been transformed into a nice surprise. "

For the Year of Faith, AsiaNews publishes testimonies of people who made love for the cross the goal of their life. "How beautiful and mysterious it is to look at that instrument of death and torture and say: life, the real one, comes from there, from the pain of the nails, from that blood."

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews) - It's been 12 years since the day of my arrival in Cambodia. 12 years, are no joke to me given that I am "only" 45 years old, an important part of my life, certainly the most beautiful and the most intense. 12 years lived in the footsteps of the Good Jesus who has brought me to places I never have thought I would see, I've done things I never thought I could do: priest, pastor, chaplain, builder, liturgist, economist, teacher, manager,  so on and so forth. I have got to know countries and people that I never thought to encounter in my life. Everything has been a pleasant surprise in the last 12 years, even evil and sin in the end were a nice surprise, yes, a happy surprise because I've never managed to have the last word, but in all those situations that could have hurt me, the Lord has been able to draw from them note of goodness, hope and unexpected spiritual progress.

Just yesterday I was reading in a magazine a journalist's memories of his last interview with the late Cardinal Martini, the journalist was saddened by the fact he was unable to get the Cardinal's comment on a letter that a prisoner asked a volunteer to write for him, addressed to his girlfriend . The letter was very to the point and almost brutal, it went: Sorry, I'm a jerk, I love you...(please excuse  my use of this course word) ..How nice to be able to say that, with a few words be able to enclose the sense of a whole life: asking for forgiveness, recognition of one's smallness and, despite everything, still be able to desire to love and be loved. And I, after 13 years of priesthood and 12 of Cambodia, I would say the same thing to the Lord Jesus whom I'm contemplating, as I write, on the cross before me: Sorry, I'm an jerk, I love you.

It may seem a harsh and rude word, but it perfectly describes my feelings when faced with the beauty and majesty of our Lord who died on the cross for love of us. In front so much love we can not fail to recognize a visceral and absolutely unavoidable need of His forgiveness, always, however, unconditionally. Who among us could ever say they are "worthy" of Him even for a moment? How sad when someone approaches the confessional and says to me: Father, I have no sins ... How sad that leaves in my heart this vast smallness of spirit. Brother why do you feel so great and pure? Can not you see that you are nothing and can do nothing in the face of the man who died on the cross for you? The cross and the nails also save you from your sin and your miseries. How can you even think you have no need of this great and immeasurable mercy?

Look at the cross, look at the crucifix and love him, embrace him as John Paul II! Without such a limitless love, that shockingly does not ask for anything in return, you can not and you are nothing. What an adorable instrument is the cross! How beautiful and mysterious to gaze at that instrument of death and torture and say: life, the real one, comes from there, from that pain, from the nails, it comes from the dripping blood. And there, on that cross, inside the nails, in the drops of blood that painfully drip, there all the sorrows of the world are scattered. Yours and mine! And do not say you do not have a pain that needs to be redeemed, because it would be a sign that you're dead inside, do not you dare think that, but look inside yourself and find that your love and pain because of that pain is ready to embed itself in The Glory of the Cross, but that will only happen if you want it.

Too often, we Christians, we forget that the cross is an instrument of salvation, too often we forget that pain and suffering are nothing but the other side of the Cross of Christ.

Last Sunday I went to take communion to the sick: strangely in Cambodia, the priest is never alone, but is always accompanied by a swarm of young people who bring joy into the homes of our elderly. We entered the last house and the Grandma whom we have known for a long time, is very ill, medicines do not help her anymore. She tried to turn on her side to welcome the Lord in the Eucharist, but every single movement makes her scream in pain. I tell her to be at ease and remain lying. We began with a brief liturgy, the young people staring at the Grandma shocked to see so much suffering. The Grandma lies still, I gave her the Body of Christ, the final blessing and then whispered in her ear: grandmother, remember that you are living a special moment of your life, this pain is not only for yourself but for the whole world, just think that you are closely united to Jesus on the cross, your pain is his pain, but it's a pain to save the world. Your pain, grandmother, and is for your sake and that of the world. Know that Jesus now is close to you in a special way. The Grandma grew calm, shook my hand and with a smile and a tear that waved me goodbye.

Every time I raise the consecrated host on the altar of the church of the Infant Jesus here in Phnom Penh, I can not avoid seeing the host, and behind it the large cross hanging from the ceiling coming down from just above the altar, and each time I say: The Lord that I am holding in my hands is the same Lord I see now on the cross, the cross and resurrection that become, in the Eucharist, one, a unique moment. This should also be our life: to know that joy and pain are one and the synthesis is in the smile of the grandmother with a tear that flows through the wrinkled face. But this, we will understand better when we're in the magnificent glory of the risen life in Christ. How nostalgia we are for that moment!

I hope each and everyone of you experiment and grasp the extraordinary and delicate presence of the Risen Lord in sorrow, in sickness and even sin. Yes, because in sin Jesus never leaves us alone, but at that moment he seeks us out and begs us to be redeemed and to return to him. How could he think of losing even one of us after he accepted the outrageous pain of the Cross? When we sin Jesus can not help but come knocking at the door of our hearts and tell us insistently: come back please, I can not be without!

Tonight before you go to sleep, give a kiss the crucifix and say; I'm sorry, I am a jerk, I love you! And maybe even say it among yourselves, husbands and wives, parents and children, and I don't think it would hurt one little bit.



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