Pope in Uganda: "worldly pleasures and earthly power do not bring lasting joy and peace"
Namugongo (AsiaNews) - Pleasures and "earthly power do not bring lasting joy and peace" and fidelityy to God "does not diminish our concern for this world, as if we look only to the future life. On the contrary, it provides a purpose to life in this world and helps us reach those in need, to cooperate with others for the common good and to build a more just society that promotes human dignity, without exception, to defend life, gift of God, and protect the wonders of nature, creation, our common home ". The example of the Martyrs of Uganda and "ecumenism of blood" that united Catholics and Anglicans killed by King Mwanda at the end of the 19th century were the focus of the first morning of Pope Francis in Uganda.
The day began with a visit to the Anglican shrine of Namugongo, where the Pope was welcomed by about forty Anglican bishops and unveiled a commemorative plaque of the 23 martyrs tortured and killed. Then, after embracing the Anglican archbishop and silent prayer, Francis blessed the crowd of Anglicans, in a gesture of great ecumenical value.
Francis then travelled via popemobile to the Catholic sanctuary of Namugongo, which is only 3 kilometers, distant and is situated in a large natural park. This was consecrated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 marking the place where St. Charles Lwanga was burned alive together its 21 young comrades on June 3, 1886. Beneath the 22 pillars of the church where the Mass was celebrated, whose shape resembles the traditional hut ethnicity Baganda, a huge crowd welcomed the Pope with an explosion of hymns and songs.
The example and the significance their “witness" for the people of today was the focus of the homily of the Mass celebrated for the 50th anniversary of the Canonization of the Ugandan Martyrs, proclaimed by Paul VI in Rome, with local songs, languages and traditions mixing with those of the Latin rite.
“From the age of the Apostles to our own day, a great cloud of witnesses has been raised up to proclaim Jesus and show forth the power of the Holy Spirit. Today, we recall with gratitude the sacrifice of the Uganda martyrs, whose witness of love for Christ and his Church has truly gone “to the end of the earth”. We remember also the Anglican martyrs whose deaths for Christ testify to the ecumenism of blood. All these witnesses nurtured the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives and freely gave testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ, even at the cost of their lives, many at such a young age. We too have received the gift of the Spirit, to make us sons and daughters of God, but also so that we may bear witness to Jesus and make him everywhere known and loved. We received the Spirit when we were reborn in Baptism, and we were strengthened by his gifts at our Confirmation. Every day we are called to deepen the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life, to “fan into flame” the gift of his divine love so that we may be a source of wisdom and strength to others”.
“The gift of the Holy Spirit is a gift which is meant to be shared. It unites us to one another as believers and living members of Christ’s mystical Body. We do not receive the gift of the Spirit for ourselves alone, but to build up one another in faith, hope and love. I think of Saints Joseph Mkasa and Charles Lwanga, who after being catechized by others, wanted to pass on the gift they had received. They did this in dangerous times. Not only were their lives threatened but so too were the lives of the younger boys under their care. Because they had tended to their faith and deepened their love of God, they were fearless in bringing Christ to others, even at the cost of their lives. Their faith became witness; today, venerated as martyrs, their example continues to inspire people throughout the world. They continue to proclaim Jesus Christ and the power of his Cross”.
“If, like the martyrs, we daily fan into flame the gift of the Spirit who dwells in our hearts, then we will surely become the missionary disciples which Christ calls us to be. To our families and friends certainly, but also to those whom we do not know, especially those who might be unfriendly, even hostile, to us. This openness to others begins first in the family, in our homes where charity and forgiveness are learned, and the mercy and love of God made known in our parents’ love. It finds expression too in our care for the elderly and the poor, the widowed and the orphaned. The witness of the martyrs shows to all who have heard their story, then and now, that the worldly pleasures and earthly power do not bring lasting joy or peace. Rather, fidelity to God, honesty and integrity of life, and genuine concern for the good of others bring us that peace which the world cannot give. This does not diminish our concern for this world, as if we only look to the life to come. Instead, it gives purpose to our lives in this world, and helps us to reach out to those in need, to cooperate with others for the common good, and to build a more just society which promotes human dignity, defends God’s gift of life and protects the wonders of nature, his creation and our common home”.
“This is the legacy which you have received from the Uganda martyrs – lives marked by the power of the Holy Spirit, lives which witness even now to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This legacy is not served by an occasional remembrance, or by being enshrined in a museum as a precious jewel. Rather, we honour them, and all the saints, when we carry on their witness to Christ, in our homes and neighbourhoods, in our workplaces and civil society, whether we never leave our homes or we go to the farthest corner of the world. May the Uganda martyrs, together with Mary, Mother of the Church, intercede for us, and may the Holy Spirit kindle within us the fire of his divine love! Omukama Abawe Omukisa! (God bless you!)”