Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Diary of a Ghetto Priest | Brotherhood: Jesus Christ; broken and forgotten

Published:Friday | June 24, 2016 | 6:00 AM
A child tied to a tree at Eventide.

There is an absence of brotherhood and sisterhood today, and the world is crying out for all of us to mend the broken body of Jesus Christ.

God sees the separation between us, He heals our pain, and He seizes the anguished hearts.

There is a cry for union.

I want a brother, I want a sister; I want someone to be with me; I want to be one bread shared by everyone, I want to love and be loved; I want to be in one world which houses everyone. Jesus Christ, the son of God, the Messiah, thank God He is close to my heart.

And over the years until I was 41, I was not a person and I was certainly short of being a priest.

The hypocrisy of my Christianity cried out. I had to respond once and for all. We are here to be holy, we are here to be bound together in Jesus Christ. Then I began to understand that the crucified Christ (which we are trying to remove from our churches and from our Christian faith) was most important of all. We must suffer together. We must give all we are and all that we have. Loving means suffering, giving myself away as bread - broken.

I gave up that work, I begged my superior, 'please let me work among the poor'.

 

BEAUTIFUL LITTLE BOY

 

One day when I visited one of the government homes, there was this little child, a beautiful little boy, his name was Joseph Cristi. This little boy was tied by strips of clothe in the hot sun and he reached out and wept. I looked at him and saw in his bowl of fish and rice, his mess. He laid out in the hot sun, the mess got mixed up with the food, and I had to take it away from him. I brought him some more food, he held on to my hand, he didn't even want the food, he just wanted to hold on to my hands. And then I cut the strip of cloth, and all he did was cry, and he hugged and begged, "Brother, are you my brother?" And I said, "Yes I am your brother."

He said "brother feed me", and I fed him. And in that moment the Holy Spirit passed from this poor little boy whose belly was full of worms. In this warm moment he held my hand and then I felt my anointing to be a priest.

I gave up my master's and doctorate degrees and I began to work with these people. I became a beggar; asking for cement, asking for land; I called together a couple of brothers - Hayden and Brian. We worked together. They came and comforted people.

Three days per week we went to Eventide home and began to wipe the bodies of the men and women.

Often, they were on spring mattresses, the wire cutting their bodies, some begging for a little water. We fed them with biscuits and bread and gave them a little water to drink, whatever we had.

And the beat of our hearts began again. We began to understand that life as a Christian is a matter of the heart, much more than of the mind. We began to find that there was life in our bodies which is the life of Jesus Christ. He's among the broken bodies of people, the poorest and most forgotten people. These poor brother, and sisters were part of us, whatever little we could give and whatever little we could share, we had to give. We began to fill our hearts and once again it began to move quicker and quicker.

The Lord says: "The beatitudes."

What does a true brother do when he sees his own brother is hungry? He feeds that person.

Blessed are those who are hungry. When there is no food, what does the brother do? He feeds them.When there are those who weep, what does the brother do? He wipes the tears. And what do we do when we see them naked on the streets? We cover their bodies because we are their brothers and sisters. Jesus is our true Brother. He brought good news to all these; the naked He clothed, the thirsty He gave drink, those who weep, He wipes their tears. The stranger He visited, that is the essence of brotherhood and sisterhood. All this is not strange, we believe that being saints is so difficult and yet Jesus reduces it to a little, little thing. Any simple man/woman with a big heart is able to be a saint.

 

LOVE AND CARE

 

We began to take in homeless people. And all it took was love and care of these brothers and sisters. The heart of man is what knows, the heart of man is where we feel and know God.

Theology is unnecessary, what is necessary is the heart and the heart of Jesus in our hearts. We try to solve problems with large heroic acts. But it is not necessary. Presence is what matters. His hand upon our hand, His mind in our mind and the unending care that He has for us as He was crucified on the cross. It is not that difficult to be saints. Some of the poorest and simplest are the great saints of our church. The bonds have been broken, Cain and Abel have become brothers again. And so the Eucharist (which is the body and blood of Jesus), broken and given to us, is what we are called to be.