“I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me” (Jn 6:38,39). “It is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Mt 18:14).
The fatherhood that has been entrusted to us as priests, revealed in these two verses, has its roots in the will of the Father and in the mission of Christ to whom we have been united. This awareness both challenges us and reassures us. It reassures us by telling us the nature of the work to which we are invited, which is also the work that God wanted for the Fraternity of St. Charles: a brotherhood of fathers called to assume the gaze of the Father “on these little ones”. The gaze of the Father is something that we have first of all experienced in our own life.
When I met Fr. Giussani, I remember especially the experience of his gaze upon me. He looked at me with total availability and with authority; actually, I perceived his authority precisely from the totality of his gaze. It was the gaze of a father who didn’t want this little one to be lost. The things that Fr. Giussani told me had a great weight because I perceived that everything he said was considered entirely for my good.
Giussani’s gaze was born from a profound identification with Christ. The same identification he lived with Christ is also possible for us today. In pondering ever more deeply the person of Christ, human and divine, and reflecting on his mission, an affection for Him begins to grow and one starts to see the world increasingly from His point of view.
In this way we begin to live and experience that great vocation to paternity that we have received, and we become for our sons and daughters, a portal to reality. The gift of our vocation reaches its fullness only when we enter into the Fathers way of looking at the other. When our gaze does not mirror the Fathers, it remains partial, near-sighted, and isn’t able to recognize the real good that the other is made for.
It is not a question of setting out to accomplish something, but a question of living to the full that which is given to us. In this perspective there is no opposition between silence and mission, between contemplation and action. Our belonging to the Fraternity, our being sent to a particular mission, our house, and our creative “yes” are all oriented towards living our paternity with those to whom we have been sent.
Every circumstance becomes significant: speaking with someone after Mass, a confession, meeting with parishioners, a School of Community; in all these moments the question posed is: “who are you?”. Within the vocation received we can answer with Christ; I am here so that the will of the Father may be accomplished. I am here so that you might not be lost, but have eternal life.