Taken from a Lettre De l’Hospitalité Notre Dame de Lourdes December 2012
The Hospitalité must see itself as a stakeholder in this new evangelisation: the whole point of its mission, which we have already emphasised, is to enable a meeting with Christ to take place.
Firstly, by the standard of our behaviour, because it is through this that our sick, disabled and able bodied brothers and sisters will either meet or not meet Christ…
To illustrate the point, i would like to share with you this meditation by Eloi Leclerc in “The Wisdom of a Poor Man (DBB)” which says exactly what the “hospitalier attitude” needs to be.
“The lord sent us to spread the Gospel to others. But have you reflected on what “spreading the Gospel to others” really means?
You see, to pass on the Gospel to someone is to say to him:
You also are loved by God through our Lord Jesus.
and not only to tell him, but to genuinely think it as well.
and not only to think it, but to behave towards this person in such a way that he senses and discovers that there is something in him that is worth saving, something greater and nobler than he thought and which wakens in him a new awareness of himself.
This is what proclaiming the Good News to him means.
You can only do this by offering your friendship to him.
A friendship that is genuine, disinterested and free of condescension. a friendship based on deep trust and respect.”
But beware: with our bretelles, rosaries and medals, we are “the ambassadors” of Christ…and ambassadors, in lourdes, who are very much in sight!
One of the main themes in the preparatory papers for the synod for the New evangelisation is that of the “Forecourt of the Gentiles”. The idea was proposed by Benedict XVI on his visit to the Czech republic. referring to the architecture of the temple in Jerusalem, the idea is that the Church must have open spaces for persons who do not know Christ, so that they can come nearer to Him, even if they are still some way off….
With its 6 million pilgrims and visitors each year, the sanctuaries, in a way, are one of these open spaces: free and unencumbered by outside activities (and the sellers in the temple!). And we Hospitaliers frequent many of these “forecourts”: the rosary square, the areas outside the Grotto or the Baths….
We must be careful what people see and hear as a result of our actions, our words and our gestures! Because it is through these actions and words that we either open or not a pathway to the message of Lourdes which, as we all know, is nothing less than a re-statement of the Gospel.
In Lourdes, Mary, in a sense, has inaugurated a “New Evangelisation”. In times marked by a lack of belief, economic crisis and social division, she came to open, with Bernadette, a new path of faith. it is this path that we need to show, discreetly, but con dently: “I was charged with telling you, not with making you believe.”
Lourdes is a “wellspring” of faith. along with the Bishop, we in turn are its “guardians”. Not policemen, but the stewards, in the Biblical sense, those with the mission of yielding a return on the treasure entrusted to them.
But this “wellspring” works not only for pilgrims but also for us, as we have often experienced. as with the apostle Thomas, it is through contact, through “touching” wounded humanity that our faith grows and we can say with growing confidence: “My Lord and My God!”