“When there is unity above, there is unity below”: this sentence, said some months ago by one of our parishioners, has remained stamped in my mind. This woman wanted to tell us that she had understood that the beauty she was seeing in the parish was the fruit of the unity and of the communion that we live in the house (we priests live above the spaces of the parish). It struck me because it expresses what don Massimo always repeated to us without tire: “The house, the common life, is the origin of the mission.”
Of all of the gifts that the Lord is giving me in these first two years of mission at Fuenlabrada, the most beautiful and precious is certainly the communion that I live in the house with my brothers. Through their humanity and their companionship, I am educated to recognize and to love the Lord more. The everydayness of the common life helps me to get a fantastical idea of God out of my head. Betting on the sharing of our life, letting my brother enter into, judge and correct my life, is becoming the occasion for truly knowing God and allowing Him to enter into my existence.
It is certainly not an obvious process and I often realize how scandalized I can get. How is it possible that God acts through other men? It is the same question that those who met Christ asked themselves: “How is it possible that this man can be God? Is he not the son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter?”
I remember that some months ago I received a letter from Fr. Paolo that announced my priestly ordination: in the message, he had written a list of points about my personality, which he invited me to look at and, above all, to correct. The letter finished saying, “If you want, speak about it with Tommaso.” Tommaso is my head of house and is a few months younger than me. My sole desire was to be able to grow as a man and as a priest, to be beautiful in front of God, and I didn’t care if a brother might come to know that part of me that was the most secret and that often I did not even possess the courage to face.
Not without a bit of fear, I accepted the advice. The day after I found myself in the living room of our house to speak with Tommaso about what don Paolo had written to me. At the beginning it was an experience of humiliation, but, as the minutes went by, I experienced what it means to find yourself naked in front of your brother and to not experience shame, as Genesis recounts about man before the fall. That day, I understood that, through that person, God Himself was correcting me, caring for me, loving me. I experienced that Christ is not an idea, a figurine that I must somehow attach to realty or a bow that serves just as an ornament. Christ is a living presence that reveals Himself above all in the life of the house. The communion with my brothers opens me to the initiative of God and purifies the images that I can have in mind, to which sometimes I attach my heart and my hope: for example, the step that I think a person should take, the ideas that I have for catechism, the judgment about how a group of young people or of adults is proceeding. Life together is a path that helps me to understand if I am responding to God or if I am just following a project of my own. Only in this way does correction become desirable, because it is a means that God uses to enter into my life. It is like a fire that, if I accept it, purifies everything in me that is impure.
The love of God that I experience through the friendship and the communion that I live with Tommaso, Stefano and Francesco, overflows into the life of the parish. It is this life together that gives me strength and sustains me in the struggles and in the joys of everyday life. It is the home to which, every evening, I can always return.