Entering in class everyday and discussing the most profound things of life with thirty high school students isn’t easy. Some are already cynical, others angry with the Christianity of their parents, others don’t want to open up to an adult. I’ve been living in Bogotá since August, where I was sent for a year of my formation. Other than carrying out parish activities, I teach in a high school. It’s an educative work split between the fear of not being accepted and the desire to communicate a different kind of life.
In these past few months, an episode that happened one Saturday morning has been accompanying me. It was the day of catechism for the kids that come from a poor neighborhood of the parish: run-down houses, with the bricks in plain sight, that climb up the Cordigliera. We propose songs, games, a brief catechesis and mass.
During one of these moments, I happened to find four little brothers closed in the parish bathroom. I open the door and see that it’s in a disarray: they did their business everywhere. Not having a bathroom in their home, they didn’t know well how to use it. But the mass was about to start so I lead them to the Church right away. Along the way from the bathroom to the church, in my pettiness, all I thought about was how I could avoid cleaning up. When I returned to the scene of the crime, I found myself in front of a Missionary of Charity of Mother Teresa. Smiling, she asked me for the cleaning supplies, adding – maybe having seen my shocked face – to not worry because she didn’t have any problem with cleaning it herself. After the mass she found me to return the cleaning supplies, with the same smile.
Recently, this event accompanies me because it reminds me that these nuns spend their lives in order to serve gratuitously, and they’re happy about it. It strikes me that no one saw the nun cleaning up the mess, neither the kids that did it nor anyone else. Only God saw her. The mission is beautiful when it’s like this, gratuitous and lived in front of God, not in front of other people.
In the past few weeks, correcting some tests, I saw that some students have opened themselves up unexpectedly, revealing that they have an intense life that I wouldn’t have imagined. Students that have never spoke in class, but have already been touched by the things that we’ve discussed together.
In this way, one realizes that God is really the one who generates the mission. He’s the one who touches people’s hearts, in His time and in His way, even if I don’t see the fruits. This makes the mission beautiful and my living with the students finally free.
In the image: a view of Bogotá, Colombia