Some months have passed since I arrived in Mexico, a beautiful country with much history and culture. Mexico City is chaotic, with countless inhabitants and an infernal traffic. People are very welcoming and have a deep religiosity. The food is delicious, although there is always too much hot chili pepper! I visited Teotihuacàn, a gigantic archeological structure with stunning pyramids always crowded with tourists, and I participated in the so-called “Grito”: on the evening September 15th, the vigil of the Mexican Independence day, every mayor rings the bell in his respective piazza, crying out “Viva Mexico!”, a scene which gives way to the show of fireworks. Fr. Davide Tonini, Fr. Gianni Brembilla, and I are making the effort to work together at the parish, where the people we meet are entrusted to us for the same reason for which Christ has seized us and sent us here: the gratitude of His love and His calling. With every day and with every encounter, we are discovering what each person is asking of us, how we can welcome them, and what we have to offer them.
Together with Father Davide, I am in charge of a small group of middle-school students: Thursday is dedicated to helping them with their homework and Saturday is the play day after a brief introduction. Last Saturday, we began the afternoon speaking about the canonization of Mother Teresa. To the question “Do you want to be saints?” everyone unanimously responded, “No”. One explained that he wants to get married and believes that only priests and religious sisters could become saints; another, who has the idea that the pursuit of sanctity always goes against one’s life project; and still another who was averse to the idea of giving everything to Christ. Their honest replies became the material with which to begin the coming Saturdays. It is beautiful to follow what they are living. We also accompany the high-school students with the similar scheme every Sunday: we talk, play, and eat together. Then there is the Mass. In these days, the main theme during the gatherings with the students is happiness.
I’ve met many people while celebrating the sacrament of extreme unction: nearing the end of one’s life, God does not cease to search out for men and to accompany them, even through a foreign priest like me. To participate in their story, even if it may be brief, is something precious. When their pain is impressed on me, I understand that, for me, this is the privileged way to intercede for them in front of Jesus. Like us, the people we meet have many wounds. The challenge is allowing these wounds, in time, to become opportunities to encounter these people, with the help of the One who can transform every place into the most beautiful place on earth.
David Crespo, a 33 year old Portuguese, is in mission in Mexico City. In the photo, playing basketball with some boys of the parish.