20150720 John Bosco forms friendships

When the young John Bosco was studying in Chieri he realized there were three kinds of students: the good, the not so good not so bad, and the bad. He would avoid the bad students and would keep a distance from them. When necessary or out of courtesy, he would interact with the not so good and not so bad students. He would befriend only the good students.
However, the bad students were also the ones who had the most difficulties in their school works. When they saw how well John was doing in school, they started to approach him for help. John would lend them his workbook or read it to them. But that displeased the teacher, for it encouraged the students to rely on John and not to work hard. He forbade John to lend them his workbook.
One day, John’s classmates were not able to do their homework and begged John to lend them his workbook. John didn’t want to disobey the teacher but he also didn’t want to see his classmates punished for not finishing their homework. Therefore John left his workbook on the desk and left. The other students flocked to John’s desk and copied his works. When the teacher found out that all the workbooks had the same answers, he questioned John. John said that maybe because he left the workbook on the desk and the students copied it. The teacher understood the good intention of John and so he didn’t punish John but urged him not to do it again. Hence, John used another means to help his fellow students. He explained the difficult questions in the workbook to the classmates, and if necessary, he guided them to answer the questions. In that way, he was admired by the classmates. They came to play with him, listened to his stories, and did homework with him. John called his kind of gatherings the “Society of Joy”. Everyone must found a book, tell a story, or introduce a game to bring joy to all. When he was seventeen, John was like a captain of his little army of friends. He drew up simple rules for the group:
1. No actions and no words unbecoming of a Christian.
2. Fulfill one’s scholastic and religious duties.
3. Keep cheerful.
John Bosco encouraged “cheerfulness”. Years later, his best student, Saint Dominic Savio said, “Here we make sanctity consist in being cheerful. We try to avoid sin which robs our hearts of joy.”
A the age of eighteen, while continuing to be the leader of his army of friends, John also formed a smaller circle of close friends.
One day, there was a fifteen years old new student, Louis Comollo. He was bullied by a boy in class. The boy slapped hard on the face of Louis. But instead of taking revenge, Louis said, “Are you satisfied? Leave me alone now. I forgive you.” John was stunned by the heroic act of Louis. He wrote, “From the moment he became my intimate friend. I can say that I learnt from him how to live as a Christian.”
John would helped the Jewish boys in Chieri to do their Saturday assignments, so that they could keep the Sabbath and not get bad marks. He became very friendly with the Jewish boy, James Levi. When James was experiencing a crisis, John lent him a catechism book. Eventually James became a Catholic and was John’s affectionate friend for life.
Due to poverty, John often suffered from hunger and his friends would gave him food. Joseph Blanchard would brought apple and chestnuts from home and gave them to John. Many years later, John would continue to treat Joseph with great love and respect as one of his early benefactors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s