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A Merciful Trap on the Road

I went to celebrate Mass in the chapel of Nyele, Duru (north of the Democratic Republic of Congo), where the Garamba National Park begins. After the Mass, I took my way back to the parish with a bicycle, the portable altar on the luggage rack, and the Eucharist for the sick around my neck.

Suddenly, it began to rain heavily. I looked for a shelter. I saw a hut nearby, but after riding a few meters through the small path full of grass, I felt the ground disappear under my feet, or rather, under my bike and I fell into a deep hole. I tried to get out of the hole with my bike but the wheels slipped in the mud and I fell back. It was almost evening. I stood on the rack and looked out towards the larger path to see if anyone was passing. Fortunately, I saw the catechist coming home. 

I shouted: “Prospero, come here, help me!” He approached me and, not believing his eyes, exclaimed: “What are you doing down there?” He cut a branch from a bush and held it to pull me out together with the bike and the little altar. Once out, I went to the hut to clean and warm myself by the fire. 

Shortly afterward, the owner of the hut and of the hole, Matthias, appeared. He hastened to apologize: “I’m sorry, Father, but you should know that I didn’t put any spears in it!” Ironically, I replied: “We needed those too!” 

The next day, the village chief put Matthias in prison for digging a trap on the road. I took pity on him and wrote to the chief: “It is true that Matthias has broken the law but, thank God, he has not caused me any harm. Besides, he has five small children to support, so please, release him.” 

The chief accepted my request. Full of joy and gratitude, Matthias came to the mission with a dozen eggs. From his words of apology, I realized that I had been lucky twice: not only had he not placed spears in the hole, but if he had placed them, he would have poisoned the tips to kill the prey quicker! 

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