By: Antonio Peña, seminarian (Philosophy, 2nd year)
“This year of mercy it would be good that we do something different”. This is how this dream began, a dream that the Joy of Gospel team turned into a reality thanks to the solidarity of the Church.
In the issue dedicated to the Epiphany of the Lord, juvenile groups in Monterrey Church were invited to the contest “Sharing Mercy Joyously”, which consisted in enrolling one’s team so that, after drawing lots, the winning team would be assisted and accompanied by LAE to carry out an act of mercy: to feed the hungry. The motivation: sharing the traditional tamales of Candlemas day with those in need.
The participation of juvenile groups was a pleasant surprise. It is worth mentioning that groups from Cadereyta and Linares municipalities participated. The winning group was Brotes de Olivo (Olive Shoots), from the Parish of Saint George Martyr in the municipality of San Nicolas de los Garza.
The challenge was to get organized to carry out this action that, within the framework of the jubilee year of mercy and in the middle of lent time, implied that the winning juvenile group and the LAE team were willing to carry it out. This was achieved thanks to the participation of the Church. We were able to joyously share God’s mercy thanks to the Church of Jesus!
Tamales turned out to be sandwiches and we considered it would be fit to share them with relatives of inpatients at the Metropolitan Hospital “Dr. Bernardo Sepulveda” in San Nicolas de los Garza. We were accompanied by a group of friends and benefactors, who joined this activity to donate more than 150 sandwiches and fruit. The Olive Sprouts group was responsible for bringing drinks to complete this assistance.
Upon arriving at the hospital we were surprised by the participation of the Charismatic Renovation group from the Temple of the Lord of Mercy, who were already giving out breakfasts at the hospital’s doors. “We are giving what God has shared with us, for his sons, for the sick” said Maria Teresa de Jesus – a motivated participant – together with her group sisters, in celebration of the Year of Mercy, enacted by Pope Francisco.
“We must be open-door – not closed-door – groups, we must be happy and share what we know, even though we just know a little” said Janelly Cardiel, motivating all other youngsters to go out from their parish halls, as taught by Pope Francisco; “Evangelize without fear, go out to the streets” reiterated Carlos Alejandro Cantu, another member of the Olive Sprouts group.
Myrna Perez de Sanchez – one of the benefactors of this action – commented: “Love for Christ is what moves us, thanks to the Holy Spirit, it is the love for Christ what moves us to serve our brothers” and Alma Ramirez Perea added “Jesus tells each of us: ‘you give them something to eat’”, and she answered the call to prepare the sandwiches for this action. “The shepherd going out of the temple is just what Jesus did; being with those who are most in need is the best example they can set… when the Shepherd goes out we feel more welcome”, was Lizeth Lara’s advice for us, the future shepherds. We are grateful for these words that encourage our formative process as shepherds to the image of Christ, the Good Shepherd.
Our two-hour stay outside the hospital allowed us to learn a little of inpatients’ complaints and their family’s efforts. This allowed us, if only for a moment, to hold the cross of illness together with them, through food and prayer. “People around looked at us and came closer. Their faces changed as they felt reassured by the water and bread we gave them. This fills us with God” said Hugo Lara, a student of Theology who came to accompany us – his younger brothers from the Institute of Philosophy – to live this experience.
For us it was a miracle to realize that fruit and sandwiches sufficed, only one was left, as if the Lord was telling us “keep giving them something to eat”, and that was the commitment we made in our closing prayer – not to make this a one-time action, but a life’s habit, to embody the virtue of solidarity, of compassion. Pope Francisco has said that the word solidarity is a bit worn out and is sometimes misinterpreted; it is far more than just a few sporadic actions of generousness (EG 189), therefore, this – that began as a dream and is now a reality we can talk about – calls for a generous response from us to the call that Jesus keeps making to his Church at large: You give them something to eat (Mark 6:37).