These summer weeks there are so many of us, from so many countries and from different continents. The joy of being together makes us aware that a solidarity among all humans exists, and that it is possible to take responsibility for each other.
Last week a young Palestinian said, “There are so many of us here and we are so different from each other, and yet we are one family.” Yes, Christ unites us in one communion. It’s like a little Pentecost. It is the joy of the risen Christ that unites us
This joy does not make us forget the suffering we see in the world. On the contrary, it gives us the courage to deal with difficult situations. These days especially we are praying for the victims of the terrible attack in Norway and for their families. But, of course, we are also praying for those suffering from famine across the world, especially in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
When faced with the incomprehensible suffering of the innocent we are often bewildered. And the question, the cry, running through human history touches the hearts of us all: but where is God?
As Christians we have no ready-made answer to this serious question. Christ himself, the one sent from God, did not give an explanation, but he shared this question with us to the last breath of his life on earth.
Jesus told us clearly that God does not want suffering. During his passion on the cross, he refused fatalism and passivity. He loved to the very end and, despite the absurd and incomprehensible character of suffering, he kept on trusting that God is greater than evil and death would not have the last word.
I think we can and must follow Christ in this: the answer to the question of suffering is not an idea or a theory. It is by our lives that we can answer. Our answer, in the steps of Christ, can only be to love more those entrusted to us.
We see that in Norway many know to express their profound solidarity with the families who have lost one of their members. We want that sense of solidarity to animate our entire existence. There are so many situations that require healing, both far away and close to us.
To be alongside those in sorrow, simply to go towards them, even if we do not know in advance what to say or do. Expressing heartfelt compassion can bring relief. Going towards them with Christ’s confident trust that God is there, alongside those who suffer.
Jesus identified himself with the poorest. In the Gospel he says these words, “What you did to one of these least you did to me.”
Tomorrow, in solidarity with the victims of the attack in Norway, we will remain in silence on the hill for the duration of lunch. It is one of you who suggested this sign. Next week we will do the same thing in solidarity with those suffering from hunger around the world. So tomorrow, we will make this unaccustomed gesture of prayer: spending all of lunch-time in silence.
At the end of this week three young Rwandans who have been here for three weeks, a pastor and two priests, will return to their country. Before they leave I would like to say this to them: We admire the courage of your people. After the great trial, you are working for a future of justice and peace. Particularly among young people there is a desire to live once again, a thirst for life.
We are pleased that next year, in November, you will be able to welcome our third African meeting in Kigali. Africa is so close to Europe, and yet so far, too far. Faith in Christ compels us to reach out to each other, to express our solidarity and to celebrate the communion of Christ who brings us together.
Yesterday at noon we read the words of the Bible: “Your will, O God, is a song for me, I remember your name in the night.” I would like to end by reading the prayer that I said after that reading:
God of peace, your will is that your love be known to all humans. Your forgiveness and your presence become a song in our heart, and even at night we can think of you and remember your name.