All for love

Publish date 16-01-2023

by Rosanna Tabasso

From the writings of Sr. Carola transpires the unconditional love for the Lord, an unstoppable drive towards the Gospel. Jesus' mandate "Go into all the world" was the one and only reason for living

On the first Tuesday of October in the Arsenale we commemorated the beatification of a nun from Cottolengo, Sister Maria Carola Cecchin (1877-1925) a missionary in Kenya for 25 years. I was struck by her story, she left without knowing anything about the land that awaited her, neither the culture, nor the language, she paved the way for herself, really only using the language of love. She fell ill and died on the long ship journey that would take her back to Italy and was buried at sea. And how many like her!

A friend who has collected the testimonies of the missionaries of her congregation told me of how many died on long sea voyages, even before arriving at their destination or soon after their arrival. But many died and many left, in a momentum of generosity that had no end. What prompted women and men to go so far, with bare hands, with open arms towards the unknown? From the writings of Sister Carola and a thousand and a thousand others, only unconditional love for the Lord shines through, an unstoppable drive towards the Gospel: for each of them, Jesus' mandate "Go into all the world" was the one and only reason for living.

"Let's go..." is a word that also resonates in our Rule and outlines our being missionaries, different in way from that of the past, but identical in substance. It is always Jesus who pushes us to proclaim the Gospel but the mission is for everyone and it is also where we live: near or far we all live Jesus' mandate with the same intensity. Each of us has a mission to live, inside our own home or thousands of miles away, abroad or in our own city. In the fraternity each one seeks and is helped to seek his or her place, day after day, in the different seasons of one's life, always. Therefore, being missionaries is not only the particular choice of some of us who go to distant places for a time in their life, but it is the life itself that we choose to live as Christians at the service of the Kingdom of God: being missionaries is proclaiming the Gospel to those who he has not yet been reached by the happy news of the Father's unconditional love, to those who have not yet understood that they are at the center of this love.

Today this announcement has disappeared even in the vicinity of the condominium where we live, at school, at work, alongside the poor, in the training of young people, in the Arsenals and within one's family. Some are called further afield, they cross the ocean to bring a sign of hope to a new land. Thanks to them new shoots are born, they are and remain small signs that gather around them a new people destined to walk with us. It is the story of the mustard seed, of the seed sown in the field, it is the story of God who walks with the short steps of each of us, of our small fraternities.

Being missionaries is the breath that keeps us alive as Christians and that gives us the impetus to go out of ourselves, to reach out to others and walk together. In our "let's go" there is no desire for power, for domination, there is knowledge and respect for the other, there is listening and understanding, there is the desire to learn from the other, to live like him without losing own identity, there is a search for an ever deeper communion.

We go with the weakness of our people and with the fragility that distinguishes our fraternities: numerically few and with all the effort of walking two by two, different as we are. It is the history of all time as the Lord says to Zerubbabel (Zac 4:6): «Not by power nor by force, but with my spirit».

All Scripture is pervaded by this recommendation. Even the life of Jesus and the journey of the disciples is a continuous invitation not to stop in front of our fragility, on the contrary, but to make use of it so that the power of the Spirit who acts beyond our strength and through our limitations is manifested to all: "when We are weak and then we are strong."

Rosanna Tabasso

NP Ottobre 2022

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