Our First Steps in the United States: Kansas City, June 2008
We had been in Kansas City, Kansas, for ten days, and it was very muggy in that early June. We had been working all day long to clean the house where we were to live in a few days’ time; night was falling and we were happy to go and rest at last.
But standing in the doorway of the house, a poor man was waiting for us resolutely – his name: Theodoro, and he was not going to let go of us so quickly!
Our house was in the heart of a neighborhood 98% Mexican, inhabited by Mexicans “in exile”! “I lost everything! exclaimed Theodoro, my wife, my children, because of my own fault! I want to start a new life, but I don’t know how to go about it! I came to see you, not for money, or for food, but to get some advice!”And turning to our brother Jean-Claude in whom he recognized “a Father”, he implored him:
“Father, give me some advice!
Father, give me a Word!
Father, enlighten me!”
And he started again with the same refrain : “I lost everything! and then… my father is dead, HE helped me, advised me…And his entreaty was getting more intense: “Father, enlighten me!” Then whispering to himself “I lost everything”, and showing his wrist he added: “Some days ago, I attempted to slit my wrist, I lost everything! ”
A little sister then took Theodoro’s hand – his hand was quite black, he had spent five nights outdoors – and the little sister said to him: “Theodoro, you lost everything, but you have your heart left, your heart to love, to comfort others, to give life! ”
Those words had not yet penetrated very deeply. Theodoro went on turning “to the Father”: I lost everything! Father, illuminate me! Give me a Word!
And the Father answered him: What the little sister said is important: You have your heart left!
Then Theodoro repeated: Yes, I have my heart left!
After five nights outdoors, Theodoro came back slowly to his family which we had visited to help his return. He begged the forgiveness of his folks who could no longer stand the damaging effects of alcohol, and then the next day he returned, quite clean, to help us clean the house where we were to live…We had to accompany him along the long road where man falls and rises, the road of every man who is born upon this earth only to return to his own heart! Jesus, on his way to Golgotha, showed us the road of a man returning to the Father, who fell and rose, fell again and rose again to finally rise and be born to the Life that conquered death.
We crossed the Ocean, and there Theodoro was waiting for us, we recognized him, as he so resembles all those poor people encountered in so many countries as the years go by, and whose memories we recalled throughout these stories. Yes indeed, everywhere the poor have the same faces, their misery chisels the features of each of them, and carves them in the image and likeness of the Suffering Servant, JESUS CHRIST, poor and crucified, HE the Son of God! God accomplishes his eternal design of Love in each one of them:
Man in His own image!
Yes, the poor indeed have the same face as that of Jesus contemplated throughout days and nights; they too reveal to us the One we announce to them, in this heart-to-heart of poor ones and beggars whom we all are: together we proclaim to all our brothers and sisters in humanity: “This is the Lamb of God !” It is He who wipes away every tear from our eyes TODAY (Cf. Revelation 7:17). It is He who takes away the sin of the world, all the evil of the world.
Praying and mendicant pilgrims, we must respond to the cry of the poor, the cry of man, our own cry:Father, I need some advice!
The poor have the right this wisdom that causes Jesus himself to rejoice under the motion of the Spirit! “I bless you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the wise and the clever and revealing them to the little ones” (Matthew 11:25).
Father, give me a Word!
They have the right to the Word of God! The true bread of Life. Who will give it to them if we do not evangelize?
Father, enlighten me!
They have the right to this light, “the light of men” Saint John said (John 1:4), that is to say the Life of God himself who has begotten us to Life… and when we lose everything, we have our hearts left; the heart of God beating in our hearts; full of this Love which triumphs over all evil and even death itself; full of this Light which darkness cannot overcome. While I was ending these lines, I could hear the little brothers and sisters repeating in American English the song of the first martyrs and witnesses of faith:
“Joyous Light of the Holy Glory of the Father Immortal, Celestial, Holy and Blessed, O Jesus Christ…”
Radiant with this Light, mendicants of the Holy Trinity and missionaries of the Holy Face of Jesus, let us walk, let us walk, let us walk still! Let us go on the Word of Jesus, throughout the world and proclaim the Gospel to all Creation; this Good News which is the consolation of the Spirit for every man. Yes, this is the Lamb of God ; He wipes away every tear from our eyes today, and gives his Peace to the world; to every man of good will.
The little fraternity of Kansas City, Kansas, received the name of “Lumen Christi” in response to Theodoro’s prayer. It’s feast-day is Easter!