In_this reflection from Magnificat's companion of meditations for the Year of Mercy, I look back at an experience that I hardly understood when it first happened so many years ago. Yet I now realize how fundamental and decisive it was for the whole shape of my Christian vocation. This was the beginning--in my adult life--of an encounter with the Person of Jesus living in His Church, and of the journey together with Him and my brothers and sisters in a concrete human friendship.
After that visit in October of 1979, my life did not change immediately or obviously. This encounter became fruitful in my life very slowly, as I continued to follow Him even with all my weaknesses and, sometimes, betrayals. It is a friendship that has branched out and has been guided and educated in different ways, but the same fundamental fact has remained true through the years: I belong to Jesus by belonging to "a people," by being entrusted to real human beings. We walk together with Him through life, and thus we learn to be open to new possibilities and new faces, to the whole world of people who are loved by God.
This friendship has woven its way into all the places of my experience, and yet I am far from understanding it. It doesn't fit "the mould" (if there is such a thing). It doesn't appear coherent, nor am I coherent within it. But I know that we all really do belong together in Christ's body. There is a unity that does not come from me, and I only know that I must adhere to the whole mystery of it and beg the Lord for the grace to take the next step on this journey with Him and with my brothers and sisters.