There are so many of us on the hill. A number of the young people who are here among us are not from Europe but from other continents. Many stay for two or three months. Their presence is a great joy which leaves its mark on the meetings.
Their presence is also a call to deepen the solidarity that unites us, despite borders and very great cultural differences.
Three times a day we are together in the church to place ourselves in the presence of God. It is Christ who unites us. He extended his arms on the cross to welcome all human beings into God’s love. In our faith in Christ there is a dynamism of solidarity that could enliven our personal lives and the life of our churches so much.
In the Letter for this year, which was distributed to you, you can read this sentence: “By his cross and resurrection Christ has established a new solidarity between all human beings. In him the fragmentation of humanity into opposing groups is already overcome; in him all form one family.”
Between the vision that comes from faith in Christ and the reality we see every day, there is a gap so huge that we can often be discouraged. All the forms of violence in the world and irresponsible exploitation of the planet’s resources disconcert us.
In the face of structures of injustice we feel powerless. The ever more dizzying speed of technological development has a positive side, but it also destabilizes us.
How can we hold firm in this tension between the conviction that there is only one human family and the divisions that we see, sometimes even quite close to us?
We can think of the countless people who give themselves with generosity, without counting the cost. Tonight we can pray for those we know, or those we do not know, and who, often very humbly, give their lives for others. They are like the soul of our societies; they keep the flame of hope burning; they witness to the fact that human goodness is stronger than evil.
In the Gospel there is this wonderful story: Jesus sits in the temple. He sees people putting money into the treasury; some give a lot. Then a very poor widow comes forward and puts in a few coins. Full of amazement, Jesus said, “She gave all she had.”
So I would like to make a suggestion: you could, always by twos or threes, go and visit people who live a strong commitment to others, in places near you that you are not familiar with, for instance a hospice, a home for immigrants, a place that supports young people without work or just someone in your neighborhood.
You will discover that through the experience of solidarity with others, the experience of belonging to each other, of depending on one another, our life becomes meaningful. We discover that happiness does not lie in the philosophy of “everyone for themselves”, but happiness comes from taking into account solidarity between humans.
Such visits will not necessarily lead you to start volunteer work at once. The first step is to carry these meetings within you, in prayer as well. Perhaps this will awaken in you the desire and the joy of performing acts of generosity in your turn. You will feel even more the needs of others and the truly urgent tasks of today.
And who knows? Perhaps later on these experiences will bear fruit in your life. They may prepare you to take on responsibilities in society.
Solidarity does not stop at our front door. I am often reminded of two visits I made to Haiti, that country that touches us so deeply. A few of us were there with Brother Roger in 1983. I went back after the earthquake nearly two years ago.
There I understood how irreplaceable personal encounters are. Those who are able must of course share their wealth and support those who do not have the basic necessities of life. But those who share also receive so much!
Seeing the courage of a mother who every morning must find ways to feed her children during that day, seeing how faith in God sustains so many people living in poverty, all this affected me deeply. And I realized that the true relationships are always mutual. Material assistance alone, without the search for true relationships, is not enough.
I want to conclude now with something else. In November we will have a meeting of the pilgrimage of trust in Rwanda, a country with a surprisingly rapid economic development.
That country has emerged from the 1994 genocide, even if the wounds are still deep. So many women and men have built a new life. Manasseh from Kigali is here with us. After having spent a few weeks here, he will return to Rwanda in a few days. I asked him to tell us about his expectations.
Manasseh : Today, in my work with youth, I see that for weddings, music groups, work together, it is no longer a question whether one is Hutu or Tutsi. These young people are the children of the generation of those who were killing one another eighteen years ago.Before the Taizé meeting in Kigali, I am happy about the trust that young people from many countries will show us by coming to our country. We in turn will open our doors and this will strengthen our own trust in others. We are all going to learn that trust in God and in others is a source of unity and reconciliation. Trust is not easy, but it is possible. It is a journey worth taking.