Bartłomiej Bozek is a member of the Chemin Neuf Community and travelled to Italy to visit Mediterranean Hope projects in April with the delegation of young men organised by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
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When I returned from Italy to Storrington on Saturday evening I felt different.
It was as if there was something weakening me from the inside. Next day, on Sunday morning the same feeling carried on. Like something had changed in my life.
It was a sunny Palm Sunday. I went to the mass and I heard a very long reading from the Gospel of Saint John about Christ’s Passion. The priest added some brief comments after the reading. He talked about suffering in the world.
And then I understood.
Our trip to Italy ended at the beginning of Holy Week. What a coincidence. In Poland we call it a ‘Great Week’. A week when Christ took everything upon his shoulders. Humanity was saved.
I think that I suddenly realized several things.
Firstly that the story of the Gospel is extremely true. The people we saw in Sicily and Lampedusa participate in Christ’s suffering … maybe even more than they are aware of. They are His cherished, because the persecution which they experience draws them directly into Kingdom of God.
They are blessed. The Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. And anyone can take them out of His hand.
I was dazzled by the work done by staff at Mediterranean Hope.
I think that a big responsibility lies upon Europeans. A woman who fled from Africa told us her story. Upon setting out on her journey, she didn’t even know that there was a stretch of water between Africa and Europe. Most of the refugees coming to this continent are hoping for a better life.
And it doesn’t matter which political point of view or country we represent. They are looking for something that we have more in common, here in Europe, which is missing in their countries.
Humanity, dignified life, respect, education, peace, love. We are duty bound to help them, if we want to remain who we are.
I think that for the first time in my life I deeply realized how lucky I am. How grateful I have to be for my life, for what God has done for me. For my family, my friends, for the story of my life.
I’ll never forget the places that I’ve visited. I’ll always remember stories that I’ve heard. I’ll keep inside of me a memory of people that I’ve seen. All of that will live within me.
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Photo credit: Damian Jackson