The availability to offer up one’s life is born from the awareness of having received a great gift: that of having been taken for the service of the Lord of the world. A gladness is born within that makes us sympathise with Jesus’ phrase: “you are useless servants”. The specific place one occupies is not important: whether it be reputable or lowly, whether it be recognized or forgotten by men. The only thing that is important is to give everything for the ideal which has reached us: just like the widow who places all of her livelihood into the treasury of the temple; just like an extremely poor woman I met in Kenya, who met the movement of CL a few years ago. After receiving an unexpected offer, that barely improved her meager finances, she told me: “I can finally take up guitar lessons again. I can learn how to play the guitar because my people need to listen to the beauty of our songs”.
A gift from on high is capable of illuminating everything. There is no longer any space for emptiness, for boredom. Every single second of existence can be filled with fullness and meaning. One can understand this going to Nazareth, today still a small town in Galilee, where two thousand years ago people lived in extreme poverty with no contact with the outside world. The kitchen of the Madonna is dug into a grotto. Yet how much light this material poverty still emanates forth today, where the humbleness of God who becomes man encounters the availability of Mary and Joseph, who accept the task given them with trust, gratitude and joy!
It is beautiful to live knowing that one is able to ask for the same availability, the same poverty of spirit, with which they lived in Nazareth. To be able to accept what is asked of us knowing that it is God himself who entrusts it to us. When several years ago they asked me to become the treasurer for the Fraternity of Saint Charles, I asked the Madonna to give me a ray of her availability, which has often warmed and illumined me.
Yet it can happen that this simplicity be lost. One can live thinking that our availability is more useful carrying out other tasks, in other contexts, where our work could bear more fruit. I live this temptation thinking that I could be more useful were I to go on mission. It seems normal to me to think that at least part of my work, that which involves numbers and calculations, is arid and of little use to the world. When they tell me, and I recall, that it is necessary for someone to carry out the task of treasurer for the good of the whole body, it does not shed further light. I ask myself whether I have lost the freshness of the beginning, whether it is possible to live an availability all the way through —to the very end.
I then realize that contradictions are part of the path that Jesus asks us to walk in order to follow him. I think that in whichever circumstance we may find ourselves in, sooner or later, we will have to pass through a mortification. We will feel as though we lose a natural vitality by adhering to what is asked of us, for which we have given the availability of our life. Yet if God allows our free adherence to the experience of dying to ourselves, it then becomes the path to identify ourselves with Christ’s limitless availability. In this manner, we rediscover the beauty and the freshness of the gift in a new way, in a certain sense more deeply, because we find ourselves closer to the fount from which it flows.
I think that in order to acquire the availability we wish to live, we must accept a purification of our images of fullness and fulfillment, which normally limit our potential if not becoming an outright obstacle to our path. As Saint Catherine wrote to the novices of the monastery at Mount Oliveto: «You must realize that there is a hidden trick that all servants of God must pass through: that while believing to serve God, they do not actually obey him. The trick is this: the devil does not tempt you with those things of the world which you have already given up. He tempts you with spiritual goods, saying, “you will be more at peace and you will be more immersed in the love of God in another place rather than where you have been placed”. To have what one desires, one resists obedience or one accepts it at great pains. In this way, while desiring peace, one loses it. It is much better to fulfill the will of God following one’s Holy Order and one’s Superiors. I am sure that you will be little eagles and that you will learn from the Great Eagle» (Saint Catherine of Siena, Epistolario, letter n. 36).

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