It is a tradition of prayer that touches the heart that which, for many years, is renewed in Santa Maria in Trastevere for the occasion of All Saints: in the Liturgy, we remember those who lost their lives as a result of serious illness. They are all remembered by name. Around this memory gather in a big hug their families and the friends of the Community who have taken care of them: a people that has not escaped the suffering of others and that has found in prayer, mutual support and in love a force that the liturgy makes visible.
This year, to the names of the Roman sicks were added those of 14 African countries: almost all are men and women followed by the DREAM program of the Community of Sant'Egidio to fight AIDS in Africa.
The liturgy was celebrated by Msgr. Matteo Zuppi, auxiliary bishop of the center of city of the Diocese of Rome. We report here the words of his homily:
"Dear sisters and brothers,
How can we understand a mystery as deep as that of death? How can we penetrate the darkness of life that ends and understand the life that we do not see, touch, and that every imagination of which is uncertain, insufficient, presumptuous?
How can we find a protection that can free us from the doubts that stir our hearts, threats that afflict our body, which occur, recur and we surely do not defeat by filling our days, cultivating of our consideration, stunning ourselves with many images and noises?
We all experience, facing this horizon so great, our true fragility. We are bound to the flesh and understand so little of that further towards which we go, although it marks every aspect of our weak life.
The Lord does not leave us in darkness and uncertainty, which often lead to resignation or turn into anguish, like when we believe that after all everything ends and then we think it is better to live as it is, or can only do so: take what we can, consume today because we do not know anything after that. By consuming we try to fill, desperately, the need of love and future, but we do not solve it this way.
Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, blessed, happy. And they help us find again our bearings, as they lead us to God, they are like stars enormity of the sky, the vastness of creation, where it is so easy to get lost and also to understand, sometimes suddenly, what a small thing we are.
The stars penetrate the darkness and make us understand the distances, but also guide the path. They are far away, of course, but there are not these all would be shrouded in darkness.
And the memory of the saints is not the description of a world beautiful, but also terribly, bitterly far from our misery and the practical difficulties of our lives. all the contrary. We know the stories of this rank of Saints, that is, men who have changed, who did not live for themselves. Saints because they have been loved and because they have not been afraid to love.
It's a crowd of men dressed in white, as we heard in the vision of the Revelation. "A great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language" as the many names that we will launch in our prayer to the Lord, soon, so that they be written in the book of life.
Today, in some ways, it is us to form that rank of saints, not by merit, of course, but only for his love. We too gathered before the throne and before the Lamb, depicted in that mosaic, that Christians wanted just to help people of the present to see the future and to understand what we are for the Lord. We are a small thing, but we are loved by him.
Some of these stories of saints are distant in time, others are interwoven with our present, as we have known so many holy men, who gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel and for justice.
We remember Francis of Assisi, who certainly came here to pray, because he was a guest, just in Trastevere, in the leprosarium of the city, near here, in a house of the abbey of Saints Cosmas and Damian, Saint Cosimato.
It's real stories, and the memory of our loved ones, so concrete for each of us, is interwoven with these witnesses. Their lives are illuminated by the same light that never ends.
And today we remember them. They are our children, parents, siblings, relatives, friends, died from serious diseases, especially AIDS. Together with them we will remember many parents, children, relatives, friends from distant lands, far away as for the distance, but not for love. These are the names of people dead especially in Africa, brothers and sisters of Jesus and thus our relatives.
Today we are happy to pray along with some representatives of Africa, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burundi and the Minister of Security of Burundi and entrust their country so that it may continue to heal from the disease of violence and can grow in well-being and peace.
Saints, that is loved by Jesus and protected by him. This means holy, protected by him, his and thus ours.
At Subiaco, in the Sacred Cave, there is a very old painting of the massacre of the innocents. All the children killed by the fury of Herod are all depicted with the same injury to the chest, identical to that of Jesus on the cross. It also means that violence is the same and is the same of Jesus. And all the children are all depicted with the face of Jesus
Today remembering the names of our loved ones, such as the sick from many countries, is to see in all them the face of Jesus and understand how the wounds of evil are all the same. Are his brothers and each candle we will light for them will help us to see the life that never ends and illuminates them and us. For us still a weak light, to them full.
Jesus did not run away in the face of evil, he teaches us how to recognize and defeat him. He did not avoid him staying at a distance, either that distance was physical or it was invisible, but terrible, like condemnation, injury, despise to those who are sick or like giving up the fight to help him, or making him feel a burthen, sometimes even punished.
Jesus is moved by those who are suffering and does not judge, he loves and continues to get close. He touches the leper and gives the example to human beings to do the same. Evil separates from others, love unites. Jesus stretches out his hand and raises, does not abandon, he listens and does not hush, overcomes the fear that scares, because he loves with tenderness and strength.
Then he first realizes that bliss that leads to happiness, which is the prerequisite to happiness that never ends: "I was sick and you visited me." Whatever we do or, unfortunately, we do not, it's done to him. But he is also the first who visits, who does not ever leave anyone alone, under any circumstances, in sickness. And Jesus does not issue an order but provides an example so that we learn to make sweet what may seem bitter at first.
Often, before the mystery of evil, people are scrambling to find a responsibility, to feel different, immune, to find a cause and thus pretend to defeat evil. Jesus loves the sick and finally frees from the idea of punishment and guilt.
And the visit is the first way to show care, respect, protection. Because visit also means fidelity, taking charge, like the Samaritan to the innkeeper, where he led the half-dead man, promises to come back and see again the man finally his neighbor.
Visit also means bring what is needed, like when you go to visit a sick person and take what he needs or what you know they like. For many it has been to ensure the necessary treatment.
The Dream project, the fight against AIDS, has really been a dream and like all dreams seemed impossible at the beginning. But all the dreams of love, if sustained by faith, become reality. It is a dream, but it's actually so many dreams, as many as the individuals who are being treated.
The Dream project was born from the suffering that we have experienced, to become like the cloak of a mother, this mother who is the Community, to protect the many AIDS patients, sentenced to death by evil, but mainly by the lack of care and therapies. Death sentence declared starvation, laziness, greed of the rich countries and corrupt rulers.
The Dream project helps to achieve the bliss right now indicated by Jesus, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted", and in their consolation, which means hope, security, future, life, joy, there is all bliss , the bliss of heaven, the happiness that the Lord wants for men. It is bliss for everyone, visitors and the visited.
Let's help this bliss, so that many be saved and not submerged, protected and not abandoned. It is the power of Jesus: to make the evil suffered reason to love, to love more and more intelligently. The Cross becomes the resurrection, we fight the evil that has taken away the loved ones preventing others to suffer the same way. And this is the victory over evil, the victory of Jesus. Healing the wounds of others, heals also our wound.
Finally, the image that accompanies our celebration, which will be donated at the end, Mary wraps with his great cloak, many different men and women - I recognized there also a bishop! It's nice, we all need it! - How much insecurity, not only in disease, and how much need of protection! Really there are depicted very different people. We all need this coat.
Mary protects only because she the humble servant of the Lord. The coat is the service of the community, which has tried to do to many what some of us have done for their children or relatives: to be close, to give hope, comfort, ensure the necessary, holding the hand, guiding and making them feel loved when everything seems to be only one sentence, defending how we can the breath of life.
It 's true, since now we are children of God, even though what we will be has not yet been revealed. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And in this bliss we begin to see the light that never ends.
And we want to be like him right now living his love. This means to be saints. Then let's help as we can, to strengthen this mantle, so that many can experience this warm security and happiness from today. Each one of us is a thread of this coat. And so it is filfilled the psalm: "How great is your goodness, Lord, you hide them in the shelter of your presence, you put them in the safe in your tent. Love the LORD, all ye his saints. The Lord preserves the faithful. Be strong and take courage. "
Lord remember them, remember them all. Protect and teach us to protect. Keep them all in your kingdom of peace. Amen "