"To experience the merciful gaze of God": a missionary experience
December 12,,2016 - Nigeria
Fr Jorge Crisafulli is a Salesian from Argentina who has been a missionary in Africa for 20 years. In this story, full of simplicity, he relates a beautiful message of missionary service: it all happened in a market in Nigeria, in the street, a few blocks from where the Salesians have their community in Abuja, the capital. Nigeria is the giant of Africa, rich in natural and human resources, with 180 million inhabitants. It is also a producer of oil. Unfortunately Nigeria has been very poorly governed in recent decades.
I had gone to the city to pay a visit to my missionary confreres and they told me that I had to go to the open market to hear confessions and celebrate mass. Obviously, it caused me a bit of surprise and even disbelief: you have to know and understand how an open market works in Africa, with thousands of people around small stalls selling everything from fresh fish to mobile phones.
When I arrived at the market they brought me a chair and asked me to sit under an intense warm tropical sun and hear confessions, in the midst of all that turmoil. I had to ask myself - what am I doing here?
With my white cassock and my stole, sitting in the middle of the confusion, with hundreds of people moving around, searching and buying ... To my surprise a man came to me and said, 'Father, can I make my confession?' I asked him if he was a Catholic, and he said yes, even though he had not been to confession for 22 years. And so there was a good confession, followed by absolution. And then the mass.
A thousand colours, a thousand noises, a thousand scents, a thousand faces, and a thousand sounds gave this Mass an even more special flavour than any other Mass I had celebrated in my life. The invitation of Pope Francis came to my mind: you have to go out, bring the church to the streets, you may get confused but there is no need to be afraid, you have to follow the Spirit, we must move forward."
People are thirsty for God's mercy and the joy of the gospel, but if nobody talks about it, if nobody preaches, if no one dares to go out, or if no one risks their lives to serve ... How can people experience the merciful gaze of God?
Source: Agenzia Info Salesiana