The Supposed Location where John baptized Jesus Christ East of the River Jordan. Wikimedia Commons

At the Heart of An Experience That Exceeds All We Know

The first Diaconia of the Middle East was held in Jordan: three days spent together, with questions and Arabic songs, seeking to deepen a friendship.
Alessandra Stoppa

"You have to hand over your freedom, your flesh, so that the Spirit may change it."
Fr. Ambrogio Pisoni is just back from Jordan. He is the Responsible for the CL communities throughout the East, Near East and Far East, and he tells us of the three days of work together in Amman, the first Diaconia of the Middle East. This was a meeting between some Italian friends and several Arabs coming from Jerusalem, Beirut, Alexandria, and Doha.

What led to the idea of proposing this meeting?
Up until last year, the Movement in the Middle East had met only once all together. It seemed the right moment had come to meet with some people from each community, simply in order to deepen the friendship that is reborn from Fr. Giussani's charism and that can be helpful for the lives of the various communities.

What did you see happening at that meeting?
Something unexpected, as always, when Christ happens. I saw each person's serious and free response. They were all involved, sharing with the others their personal journeys and the lives of their own communities. It was a living communion; the witnesses showed us how the Event always precedes ideas.

Once again, we see this evidence: the wealth of experience, which is a gift of the Spirit, precedes and surpasses our awareness of it. We are asked to become more and more aware of what we are living.

So there is a need to meet and judge things together?
The Church is a "convocatio," a community of people called. We have to surrender our freedom and our flesh so that the Spirit might change it. We need to meet because the method is a communion.

The prayers, the songs, and the Liturgy were all proper to the Arab tradition, and almost all those present were Arabs. What does this fact say to the life of the Movement?
It's the acknowledgment that Fr. Giussani's charism, like every authentically Catholic charism, is able to invest and mold the cultural originality, the tradition of a people.

What work does this meeting propose to us?
First of all, it leaves us with a fact for which to be grateful. Consequently, we have a deeper and more emotive reason for continuing on the road we are traveling.

Does this friendship judge also the delicate historical moment being lived by Christians in the Middle East?
It judges everything, and the judgment has this aspect: the emergence of an "I." The event of this friendship re-awakened the freedom of each one of us so as to become a journey of personal commitment, to become itself.