Cast out into the deep: missionary reflections (2003 – 2010)

Fr. Sergio Fossati, PIME

Before leaving my home country, I vowed to be totally open to anything the Lord was preparing for me, setting aside my personal plans and strategies on how to proclaim more efficiently the Good News. However, I would never have expected to be so abruptly exposed to the harsh reality of life in the missions.

I had barely the time to settle into my new so-called rectory, when somebody came with the news that a Christian young man was murdered. I knew it was not safe to leave at that hour in the afternoon: nobody would like to be suddenly caught by darkness on an isolated trail. Yet, I immediately took my motorcycle and drove to that village up in the mountain at the edge of the virgin forest.

To tell the truth, up until that day I saw very few dead bodies and certainly I never touched any of them. I found him lying on the grass, his eyes still open, a small cut between his ribs where the heart is. I closed his eyes and asked the Lord of all mercies to receive him. He was only twenty years old and worked as a chainsaw operator. He was stabbed by one of his fellow illegal loggers, used to violating creation that they did not even mind violating human life. I could not help but think how cheapened life can become. Or so it seems, in many parts of the world. At times it looks like humanity is going insane: do we not realize that if we dismiss life, we deny humanity itself?

I think it is not a question of choice, if we still want to be called human. After all I saw in the missions I cannot bear the horror of violently snuffing out human life anymore. I feel really shocked in these times of beheadings, suicide bombings, ethnic cleansings, mass destruction, abortion and euthanasia. Do we feel better if we try to make distinctions whether it is legal to snuff out human life at various stages? Are we becoming so inhumane as not to consider life in its entirety and sacredness?

We believe that God became one like us. He did not need to do this, but he did it anyway.

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