Venezuela: Those eyes you cannot forget

During the period of confinement, Carlos began to participate in charitable work in his parish. There he meets gazes and stories that intercept his need to be loved, and which set his "I" in motion.

At the beginning of confinement, I realized that I thought that life had been put on hold because I had been deprived of all the activities I did. Then I saw that my "I" is being provoked more than before. Near where I live, there is a parish which organises a "solidarity pot" every Saturday, feeding more than two hundred people. A few weeks ago, I decided to participate.

I was particularly struck by the eyes of a little girl who looked at me because I had fed her. With a soft voice she said "thank you", and after saying goodbye to her I turned around to continue my work and thought: "I do it for these ojos for cielo.” I realize that my need for Christ is also manifest in this place; my need to be looked at by eyes that pierce me and take me back to the transcendent. I have not been able to get it out of my head and I always remember it.

Last week, I noticed that there was a guy who had come by three times asking for food. I went to tell him that he should not do that, because if he got three portions, others would be left without food. He looked at me with teary eyes and told me that he would not do it anymore, then tried to leave. I stopped doing what I was doing and went after him. I wanted to get to the bottom of what was happening (which was more than just an extra portion). He told me that his grandmother could not come and that they do not have much to eat at home. I asked him to tell me more about the situation, to understand how to find a solution for his grandmother. I was instantly moved to tears. I encouraged him to tell me about the situation and we came to an agreement so that he can collect both his food and that of his grandmother. This Saturday, when he arrived in the courtyard where we distribute the meals, he came to look for me and said: "I brought what you asked me. You were right, we could talk and it is much better to be honest." He never gave the slightest sign of arrogance. He has always been humble and open. The only thing I can do is look at him tenderly, as the child looked at me.

I also met a grandmother, a rather old lady who once, while I was serving her, asked me to put the bread in another container because she does not like to eat everything together. When I served her again last Saturday, I told her: "Grandma, give me your three containers, one for cutlery, one for food and the other for bread, because I remember that you do not like to eat everything together." The lady looked at me with joy and said: "You remembered!" She spoke to me about her needs and the state of her health, and then, blessing me, she left. I saw her again this week, and she looked at me with even more love. With my friends from the "pot" we managed to get her what she needed.

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These very concrete facts help me to understand what Fr. Giussani says in The Meaning of Charitable Work: "For us, the only "concrete" attitude is attention to the person, that is, love for him.” It helps me to see my own need to always be looked at with tenderness, to be able to see the "ojos de cielo" that take me back to the eternal. Knowing the other strengthens in me the desire to love them and to embrace all their reality together with mine. I could go to the "solidarity pot" and just serve lunch without getting involved. Instead, Christ gave me the grace to embrace my humanity and that of the friends I meet there, to embrace Him more, without sparing me the impotence and pain that comes with having sometimes to say to them, “today we have no more food."

Participating in this moment of charity increases my desire to give my life for the work of Another, it sets in motion my whole "I" that meets Him.

Carlos, Venezuela