03/19/2019, 15.11
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Fr Lembo’s Lenten letter from Japan

by Andrea Lembo

PIME’s regional superior highlights the latest projects realised thanks to PIME’s charity body. A visit with young people in Tokyo is a stimulus for dialogue and meditation. He thanks those “in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way.”

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Like Simon of Cyrene, "charged with carrying" the Cross of Christ, so many people find themselves carrying a cross despite themselves in today’s Japanese society, writes Fr Andrea Lembo, regional superior of PIME in Japan, in his letter for Lent. For the missionary, it is precisely these crosses that "sometimes mysteriously le[a]d to the encounter with the Man on the Cross, Jesus, who gives meaning of our life.” His message follows.

"They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross" (Mk 15:21). The evangelist Mark dedicates a single short verse to this individual, Simon of Cyrene. However, a significant amount of information converges in these few words on the historical nature of the Cross of Jesus; they make us see even more the deep meaning of the encounter with Jesus who carried the Cross, the Mystery of Salvation.

The unsuspecting Simon, who came in from the countryside just that day, at that hour, unluckily found himself passing through a Jerusalem in turmoil. Perhaps it was the inability to choose another route, or perhaps his curiosity to know who were the convicts of that day, but the fact remains that he was charged with carrying the cross of someone most likely unknown to him. Today we would call such a person, sorry for the irony, a "poor devil".

My daily life takes me on the road a lot each day. I often wonder how many Simons of Cyrene criss-cross the tangled web of Tokyo’s transportation system today. How many people find themselves carrying a cross, with which they were suddenly saddled, burdened by an unbearable and senseless weight. And yet, especially at our Galilea centre, we continue to see how these crosses have sometimes mysteriously led to the encounter with the Man on the Cross, Jesus, the one who gives meaning to our life.

Thanks to the contributions of donors through our charity, the Pime Onlus K650 project, the Catholic Funabashi Learning Center Galilea was able to organise 51 events from January to March 2019. In addition, on some days of the week, we provide personal outreach services.

Last but not least, PIME Japan and the Catholic Funabashi Learning Center Galilea had the honor to collaborate to a two-day inter-faith seminar in Tokyo organized by the teachers and the students from the UWC ISAK Japan International School in Karuizawa (Nagano Prefecture).

We visited sacred places that belong to different eras and religions, met other young people who spoke to us about their own cultural-religious traditions and their life in a megacity like Tokyo and in Japanese society. The two vibrant and lively days gave us a taste of the capacity of young people to interiorise and meditate when they come across something that is great and meaningful in their lives.

My gratitude to those who have worked on the projects and the experience I have achieved over these years have led me to trust the goodness of our Galilea dream "in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way" (Gaudium et Spes, 22). Good Lent!

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