Kolkata (AsiaNews) – They will spend Christmas with Aids sufferers, the missionaries of Mother Teresa from Shanti Bavan, the house of peace. "Here - brother Yesudas, former superior of the Missionaries of Charity tells AsiaNews Here we are 5 Brothers are 30 inmates all in their thirties, according to the standards of the world, these men are too young to die, these men are too young to die and for us Missionaries of Charity, working with these young men, we have to give them hope. I am surrounded by many people gazing at me within and around Shanti Bhavan. There is Mitu Sahoo died at the age of 12 with AIDS related illnesses, holding my hand and looking at me with brokenness, “what did I do that I have to go through this torment?” For him, life brought only pain, frustration, suffering and a sense of time dragging”. But Fr.Yesudas, in Shanti Bhavan (Kolkata), maintains that even among the ill and dying Christmas brings new hope.
“Each day – he says - we are called to be witnesses of Life and hope in this situation of death. Mother Teresa) always told us that the Missionaries of Charity are called to be Missionaries of His Love and His Compassion and His Presence in the world. We have to transmit hope to people who often are in seemingly hopeless situations”.
“Christmas – he continues – Christmas is a beautiful time to recall and celebrate journeys made in faith and love. I recall the first night of Christmas and the first look of Jesus at Mary in love. This look of Jesus had a unique beauty of communion that captured the eyes of Mary and Joseph. I also imagine the innocent gaze of the shepherds and the longing search of the Magi by looking at the star, a star that leads to a Presence. The mystery of these looks, unique in their ways, leads me to faith, love and contemplation and reveals the reality of the look of the Father. The perfection of the look of the Father continues to be reproduced in different ways and degrees. This too is Christmas”.
“A few weeks ago Mr. Dipankar Dey, who died in the hospital with AIDS related disease, while visiting him a day before his death, looked at me with hope and asked me, “will you give three hundred Rupees to my father so that he could buy some food?” What could I answer or what could I offer to all these men and women in pain? …… Being with them and experiencing my helplessness, I realized, as they looked at me with their suffering and as I looked at them, something happened to us – I carry with me part of their past and they carry with them a little of my present. Isn’t that lovely…Isn’t that Christmas?”
“Christmas for us at Shanti Bhavan is a revelation of a face: the face of the incarnate Son of God. I came to experience how gently the incarnate Son of God looks at us and puts His hand on our shoulder in moments of loneliness and despair. This family had a sense of unity within the sense of difference. So they were in communion in the midst of their suffering. As I continue to meet this family, I remember the prayer of Jesus “May they be one as we are one”.
“Christmas becomes for us at Shanti Bhavan a very concrete feast. Our day begins at 4.30 Am, where the brothers assemble for the Lauds and meditation followed by Holy Eucharist. With this are nourished to give life and hope to the sick and suffering. Even evening we have Adoration from 6pm to 7pm and every one is invited. Once a week the brother, inmates and volunteers have an hour of prayer in the ward itself. It is very encouraging to witness, these young men, gradually over time accept AIDS and not remain rebellious about the disease”.
“Amidst all the death and suffering at “Shanti Bhavan”, - concludes Fr. Yesudas- “there is still hope and life. Even though most of these people know, their end may be imminent, they are not given into despair, and they share the pain and anguish of the other, caring for the other, listening to the other, and also praying for the good health of the brothers. Perhaps they are living by Mother Teresa s belief that if you die smiling the gates of heaven open for you.”
The home opened in 1998 to help 15 people suffering from tuberculosis. Over the years an increasing number of AIDS victims have come to the home, which now cares for 30 people sick or dying from AIDS related diseases.