Pope calls on Ugandan youth to transform hatred into love, war into peace
Kampala (AsiaNews) - "As Christians, we can not just stand idly by" while there are those who are "victims of today's '' disposable culture'." "Something has to change", we must invoke the help of God and go against the trend in order to live in accordance with our faith.
In the long afternoons spent in Kampala, Uganda, Pope Francis has left many points of reflection for the Christians of this country and he also prayed "for the beloved people of Burundi, so that the Lord will inspire the authorities and all of society sentiments of dialogue and cooperation, reconciliation and peace".
Speaking to 150 thousand young people gathered in the Kololo Airstrip (pictured), a former airport, where he arrived at 15:30 (local time) he appealed to them to "turn hatred into love," to "transform war into peace", trusting that even before a negative experience "there is always the possibility of opening a horizon, opening it with the power of Jesus".
Then at Nalukolongo Bakateyambma, a charity centre founded in 1978 by the first Ugandan cardinal, Emmanuel Nsubuga, he appealed to all parishes and communities in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa "not to forget the poor."
And finally, meeting priests, religious and seminarians in the Cathedral of Kampala, he urged them to feel called to carry on the legacy of the Ugandan Martyrs, also offered to help the mission of the parishes that have few priests. "Priests can not lead a 'double life'. If you are a sinner ask forgiveness. But do not to hide from what God wants; do not to hide the lack of loyalty. Do not shut your memories up in a storage closet".
The meeting with young people, began with songs and dances, he heard the witness of two young people. Emmanuel abducted, detained, tortured, and Winnie, born with AIDS. "How much pain I feel in my heart - said Francis - to hear Emmanuel and Winnie’s stories".
Continuing in unscripted remarks he reflected on how "a negative experience may serve some purpose in life." Both "Emmanuel and Winnie have had negative experiences in their lives", but Jesus made them understand that "life can also be a great miracle: transforming a wall into a horizon, a horizon that opens to the future."
Faced with a negative experience, "there is always the possibility of opening up a horizon, opening it up with the power of Jesus", as Winnie did. "And this is not magic: this is the work of Jesus! Because Jesus is the Lord. Jesus can do anything. And Jesus suffered the most negative experience in history: he was insulted, rejected and assassinated. But Jesus, with the power of God, is Risen. He can do the same for each of us, with every negative experience. Because Jesus is Lord".
Emmanuel, then, "when he saw that his companions were tortured, when he saw that his companions were murdered." But Emmanuel, "was brave," he ran "the risk, he trusted Jesus and fled," and today is here. He turned this negative into a positive”. The Pope then asked the young people if they are "willing to make transform all of the negative things in life into positive things," to "turn hatred into love", "transform war into peace."
He told them "you have to be aware that you are a people of martyrs. In your veins flows the blood of the martyrs! And for that you have faith and life. " A faith and a "life so beautiful, that it is called the pearl of Africa '." Jesus "can change your life. Jesus can pull down all the walls that you have before you. Jesus can make your life be ne of service to others". And this, he said, not because he has a "magic wand".
Francis has thus called on young people to seek help from the Lord through prayer: "Never stop praying, prayer is the most powerful weapon that a young person has."
"Three things - he concluded - the first, overcome difficulties; the second, transform the negative into positive; the third, prayer, prayer to Jesus who can do anything. Jesus, who enters our heart and changes our life. Jesus, who came to save me and who gave his life for me. Pray to Jesus, because He is the only Lord. And because in the Church we are not orphans and we have a Mother, pray to our mother".
The condemnation of the "throwaway culture" was at the heart of his visit to the Nalukolongo Bakateyambma's charity home which cares for hundreds of poor of all religions, including some AIDS patients.
"The Gospel – he said - The Gospel commands us to go out to the peripheries of society, and to find Christ in the suffering and those in need. The Lord tells us, in no uncertain terms, that is what he will judge us on! How sad it is when our societies allow the elderly to be rejected or neglected! How wrong it is when the young are exploited by the modern-day slavery of human trafficking! If we look closely at the world around us, it seems that, in many places, selfishness and indifference are spreading. How many of our brothers and sisters are victims of today’s throwaway culture, which breeds contempt above all towards the unborn, the young and the elderly! As Christians, we cannot simply stand by. Something must change! Our families need to become ever more evident signs of God’s patient and merciful love, not only for our children and elders, but for all those in need. Our parishes must not close their doors, or their ears, to the cry of the poor. This is the royal road of Christian discipleship. In this way we bear witness to the Lord who came not to be served, but to serve. In this way we show that people count more than things, that who we are is more important than what we possess. For in those whom we serve, Christ daily reveals himself and prepares the welcome which we hope one day to receive in his eternal kingdom”.
Parishes must show that "people are more important than things”.
To priests, religious and seminarians gathered in the Cathedral of Kampala, the Pope recommended particularly fidelity to the tradition of the "witnesses" of the martyrs of Uganda. The local church, he said, should not "never take this inheritance for granted", treating it like a "distant memory" of those who gave "their lives" for the love of Jesus. "
The Church in Uganda, must be faithful to this memory, She must continue to be a witness and not live off the interest". "Fidelity also means offering yourself to the bishop to go to another diocese that needs missionaries. And this is not easy. "
"Uganda has been watered by the blood of martyrs, witnesses. Today it is necessary to continue to irrigate it, and this a new challenge, that needs new witnesses, new missions. Otherwise, you will lose the great wealth you have and the 'Pearl of Africa' will end up preserved in a museum. This i show the devil attacks: in small steps".
On the eve of Advent and the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the conclusion of the Year for Consecrated Life, Francis invited all present to prayer. "Please do not stop praying just because you may have lot of work".
"Prayer also means humility, the humility to go regularly to your confessor to tell him your sins. You can not 'limp' with both legs. The men and women religious, priests can not live a 'double life'. If you are a sinner, ask for forgiveness. But do not to hide what God wants; do not to hide your lack of fidelity. Do not close it in a closet".