07/31/2007, 00.00
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Fr. Zanchi: the kidnapping of Fr. Giancarlo has caused many to discover what a missionary is

His experience shows how God knows how to reap good from evil, he gathered many people of different faiths and nations together in prayer, causing many to discover what a missionary really is: “not a hero, nor a fanatic, but a man who has accepted the call of the Lord: “Now go, I am sending you…” He is a man who knows the greatness and the difficulties that he will encounter in fulfilling his mission: hostility, rejection, persecution, martyrdom. However, he also knows that it is God who entrusts this mission to him and that, no matter what, God will always be with him”.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Fr. Giancarlo Bossi’s kidnap has confirmed that God is capable of bringing good out of evil, he gathered many people of different faiths together in prayer and at the same time he helped people to discover that a missionary is “ordinary”, “not a hero, nor a fanatic, but a man who has accepted the call of the Lord: Now go, I am sending you… ”. The Church of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions’ Mother House in Rome was packed with people last night for.  They were there to celebrate with mass the founding of the Institute and to give thanksgiving for the release of PIME missionary Fr. Giancarlo Bossi.


Concelebrated by all of the PIME priests present in Rome, the mass was presided over by he Superior General Fr. Gian Battista Zanchi, who during his homily inspired by the gospel parable of the mustard seed and the yeast, underlined it container the same message: “the disproportion between the small beginning and the unexpected, amazing final result. A mustard seed, almost invisible, gives rise to a shrub capable of growing three to four meters tall a few grams of yeast makes fifty some kilos of dough rise.  The contrast is enormous!”


“These two parables are an invitation to optimism, - he continued - based on the certainty that the irresistible power of God is present in the Spirit and in the Word of Christ, despite their insignificance in the eyes of the world.  Once again the Gospel invites us to see with the eyes of faith.  The surprising growth of the Kingdom of Heaven demonstrates that we are not owners of the Kingdom.  It is God who rules, who is responsible for its growth; we are simply servants and collaborators.  “Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth…For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building” (1 Cor. 3:7.9).  Finally, these two parables teach that a characteristic of faith is wonder.  Human works start off grandiose and end up as little or nothing.  God enters history discreetly, with respect for small signs.  However, if one accepts to follow His actions, in the end one will rejoice in the marvellous works of God”.


“The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven clearly show how the good (also the good which is less apparent) can ferment, can transform humanity and its history. 

The Lord wishes to remind us that His presence in history resembles a seed fallen to the ground or yeast buried in the dough, in that He triumphs not by a striking activity, but by a hidden one.  In the Gospel of John we read the following words of Jesus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn. 12:24-25).  Jesus is the grain of wheat which accepts falling to the ground and dying (He offers His life); because of this the Kingdom of God grows in history.  Beginning with Jesus, the Kingdom of God moves through history and produces fruit of unforeseeable greatness, thanks to the small gestures, hidden and all too often generally ignored, of so many people who make a gift of their own lives”.


“Among these are the missionaries who—with great simplicity, without appearing on the front page of newspapers or on radio and television—offer their lives even today, with great dedication, for the cause of Jesus and of the Gospel and for the good of the people”.


“Fr. Giancarlo is one of these simple, ordinary missionaries who for years have been spending his life among the people and for the people of the island of Mindanao.  Only the unforeseen event of his kidnapping brought him to the attention of the media.  It was then that his person and his missionary activity were highlighted.  Here is the testimony of Fr. Gianni Sandalo, local Superior as well as friend of Fr. Giancarlo during the seminary and in the mission: “In Payao the people call him the gentle giant, because he is available for everyone, talks with everyone, loves to be with the people and is well loved.  He is a peaceful man of few words, but an exceptional worker; he has always joined manual work to his spiritual life.” 

As soon as he was free, Fr. Giancarlo expressed the desire to return to his people: “I want to return to Payao and greet my people and tell them that I am fine.  My heart is, and remains, in Payao.  They say that a priest is also a father, and it is precisely as father of the community that I have the duty of returning to my people, to my children “.


“The unceasing chorus of prayers from so many people, of different faiths, in different parts of the world, obtained from God not only the grace of his being released, but also a beneficial effect on Fr. Giancarlo’s emotions during his imprisonment.  He was asked: “Did you experience moments of discouragement?”  Fr. Giancarlo answered: “I never lost my inner peace and I truly have to thank the Lord for that.  He kept me calm and peaceful in the face of everything that was happening to me.”  In the Mass for the release of Fr. Bossi I recalled the following words of Fr. Luciano Benedetti, who in 1998 was also kidnapped and who was released after 68 days: “Giancarlo will be a bit perplexed to see that the youthful rebels around him pray to the same God with their weapons on the ground (but not too far from the prayer mat).  At that moment, he will ask himself which side God is on, without finding a clear response.”  In fact, Fr. Giancarlo was asked: “Did you dialogue with your captors?”  He responded: “Every day we talked, sometimes more, sometimes less.  They prayed and I prayed.  One of the questions that I asked them, and that I asked myself, was: are we praying to the same God or a different God, seeing that you on the right pray with your rifle and I on the left am a prisoner?  Is it the same God who wants all these things or what?  Certain questions still remain with me.”  With respect to his captors, Fr. Bossi declared: “They treated me well, and I prayed for them.”  This is a beautiful testimony, which recalls the example of Moses”.


The great sin of Israel, recalled Fr Zanchi, “is idolatry: in the place of God the people of Israel fashioned a golden calf and bowed down in adoration.  Moses condemned the sin, called the people to conversion, but also stood with them, becoming an intercessor on their behalf before God: “This people have committed a great sin: they have made themselves a golden idol. But now, if you will forgive their sin…and if not, cancel me from the book that you have written.”  As Fr. Giancarlo has said: “I harbour no resentment against my captors.  I told them: we are brothers because we are children of the same Father.  I will pray for you every evening”.


“In the letter I wrote asking for prayers on July 10 for the release of Fr. Bossi, I concluded by invoking the intercession of Mary: “…we ask her to be able soon to sing with her our Magnificat.”  We are here, this evening, to sing our Magnificat”.


“Thank you, Lord, for the priceless gift of our confrere Fr. Giancarlo returning home safe and sound.  It is really true that you know how to bring good out of evil.  In fact, the kidnapping of Fr. Giancarlo has stirred the conscience of many, has caused many to discover and to reflect on what a missionary is.  It has clearly emerged that a missionary is not a hero, nor a fanatic, but a man who has accepted the call of the Lord: “Now go, I am sending you…”  He is a man who knows the greatness and the difficulties that he will encounter in fulfilling his mission: hostility, rejection, persecution, martyrdom.  However, he also knows that it is God who entrusts this mission to him and that, no matter what, God will always be with him”.


“Thank you, Lord, for giving Fr. Giancarlo a missionary vocation, and for keeping your promise: “Do not fear; I am with you to protect you.”  Give us missionaries willing to leave family and possessions in order to make themselves brothers to everyone and to bring Christ the Saviour to everyone”.


“The kidnapping of Fr. Giancarlo brought together so many people, near and far, from different countries and different faiths.  It highlighted the richness and the beauty of the values of faith, of hope, of prayer, of freedom, of solidarity, of sacrifice, of self-giving, of friendship, of peace…Grant, O Lord, that all those who have touched by this event, who have prayed, who have struggled, and who have showed their solidarity in different ways, may continue to defend and to spread these values, values worth giving one’s life for.  Thank you, Lord, for your continuous love and mercy”.


“Finally, we entrust our Magnificat to Mary, that it may be also for us an outpouring of our hearts, overflowing with joy over the great things that God has done during the captivity of Fr. Giancarlo, as well as for all the marvels that God continues to perform in our life”.


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See also
Mass for Father Bossi’s release celebrated in Zamboanga
Father Bossi to hold press conference in Rome
PIME celebrates 150 years in Hong Kong
Fr. Bossi: July 30 PIME celebrate a mass to give thanks
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