The visit to the "Dream" center for people suffering from AIDS / HIV: "the poor need, the personal involvement of those who hear their cry". "You can't think about the future, build a nation, a society based on the " fairness "of violence. I cannot follow Jesus if the order I am promoting is this: "eye for eye, tooth for tooth". "
Maputo (AsiaNews) – In order to exercise their "right to peace" the people of Mozambique need to abandon the "law of retaliation" and learn to love the other, even their enemy. The "law of love" was at the center of the last day of Pope Francis in Mozambique, marked by a visit to the Zimpeto Hospital, an extraordinary experience in the fight against AIDS, and by the great Mass in the Maputo stadium.
Located on the outskirts of Maputo, the hospital hosts the Dream center for people suffering from AIDS / HIV, started in 2002 by the Sant Egidio Community. In Maputo, an estimated 23 percent of the adult population, slightly less than one in four, is HIV-positive. The Dream program, extended to ten other African countries, has treated half a million people and 130,000 children were born healthy from HIV-positive mothers.
Francis, who visited two departments of the Center, in a greeting to patients and health care workers showed that "all the people who, at various levels, are part of this health community become an expression of the Heart of Jesus, so that no one thinks that the their cry falls on deaf ears. [...] [They are] a sign of sharing for those in need, to feel the active presence of a brother and sister. It is not an act of delegation what the poor need, but the personal involvement of those who hear their cry. The concern of believers cannot be limited to a form of assistance - though necessary and providential at first - but requires that attention of love which honors the other as a person and seeks his good ”.
Still speaking of the law of love in the last public moment this visit, Pope Francis celebrated Mass among the more than 50 thousand people present in the stadium. In a country where only a month ago, on August 6th, a peace agreement was signed that ended a civil war that caused one million deaths, Francis focused his homily on the evangelical "love your enemies ".
"Many of you - he said - Many of you can still tell your own stories of violence, hatred and conflict; some concerning things that happened to you personally, others concerning people you knew who are no longer alive, and others still, out of fear that the past wounds will reopen and reverse the progress already made towards peace".
"It is not easy - he said - to speak of reconciliation while wounds are still open from the years of conflict, or to take a step towards forgiveness, which is not the same as ignoring pain or giving up our memories or ideals (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 100). Even so, Jesus Christ is calling us to love and to do good. This means much more than simply ignoring the persons who harmed us, or trying to avoid encountering them. Jesus commands us to show an active, impartial and extraordinary benevolence towards those who have hurt us. Nor does Jesus stop there. He also asks us to bless them and to pray for them. In other words, to speak of them with words of blessing, with words of life not death, to speak their names not in insult or revenge, but to establish a new bond which brings peace. It is a high standard that the Master sets before us! ".
"In inviting us to do this, Jesus wants to end forever that common practice of being Christians yet living under the law of retaliation. We cannot look to the future, or build a nation, an equitable society, on the basis of violence. I cannot follow Jesus if I live my life by the rule of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for tooth”. No family, no group of neighbours, no ethnic group, much less a nation, has a future if the force that unites them, brings them together and resolves their differences is vengeance and hatred. We cannot come to terms and unite for the sake of revenge, or treating others with the same violence with which they treated us, or plotting opportunities for retaliation under apparently legal auspices. “Weapons of violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts” (Evangelii Gaudium, 60). An “equity” born of violence is always a spiral with no escape, and its cost is extremely high. Yet another path is possible, for it is crucial not to forget that our peoples have a right to peace. You have a right to peace.".
‘“Love one another”, Jesus tells us. Paul translates this as “clothe yourselves with compassion and kindness” (Col 3:12). The world disregards and continues to ignore the virtue of mercy, of compassion. It kills or abandons the handicapped and the elderly, eliminates the wounded and infirm, or shows itself more concerned with the suffering of animals. It has not practiced the goodness and kindness that lead us to consider the needs of our beloved neighbour as our own. Overcoming times of division and violence calls not only for an act of reconciliation or peace, in the sense of an absence of conflict. It also calls for daily commitment on the part of everyone to an attentive and active concern that makes us treat others with the same mercy and goodness with which we ourselves want to be treated. An attitude of mercy and goodness above all towards those who, by their place in society, quickly encounter rejection and exclusion. An attitude not of the weak but of the strong, an attitude of men and women who realize that it is not necessary to mistreat, denigrate or crush others in order to feel ourselves important, but rather the contrary… And this attitude is the prophetic strength that Jesus Christ himself showed us by his desire to be identified with them (cf. Mt 25:35-45) and by teaching us the path of service."
"We want peace to reign in our hearts and in the lives of our people. We want a future of peace. We want “the peace of Christ to reign in our hearts” (Col 3.15), as the letter of Saint Paul said so well. Here Paul uses a word taken from the world of sports, which evokes the umpire or referee who settles disputed issues. “May the peace of Christ act as the umpire in your hearts”. If the peace of Christ acts as the umpire in our hearts, whenever our feelings are in conflict or we feel torn between two contrary feelings, “we should play Christ’s game”, and let his decision keep us on the path of love, the path of mercy, in the option for the most poor and the protection of nature. The path of peace. If Jesus were to serve as the umpire for the conflicting emotions in our hearts, in the complex decisions of our country, then Mozambique will be ensured a future of hope. Then your country will “sing with heartfelt gratitude to God in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Col 3:16)".
Mass was the last meeting of Francis in Mozambique. At 12.30 (local) the Pope left for Madagascar, the second leg of his journey.