As we leave Taizé, after a week during which everyone has tried to go to the wellsprings of the faith, a few words can make us think. They were spoken by Christ to his disciples: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
This seems strange: God needs witnesses. He does not impose his own truth on all human beings. Christ says to each and every one of us: “I need you so that the world may believe that my words are true.”
Setting out from Taizé, you can say to yourselves: being a Christian does not only mean having the moral attitude of being good for others; it means first of all witnessing to the story and the words of Christ.
The great testimony of the early Christians was that Christ rose from the dead. An unheard-of testimony: they would never have dared to invent such a message. It meant for them that already the presence of God had entered into history, that violence and death no longer had the last word.
The first person to proclaim this was a woman, Mary Magdalene. She told the other disciples that she had seen the risen Jesus.
The resurrection surpasses our understanding; it is a reality beyond the capacity of our mind. Believing in the resurrection does not put us to sleep; instead, we draw from it the strength to struggle against evil, because we believe evil will only last for a limited time.
Jesus did not describe life after death. He spoke about it soberly, using very simple images, like that of a feast where God himself serves the meal, at a table where all are invited, “from east to west,” said Jesus.
This is a beautiful image that can inspire our lives. In reality it is more than an image. We can live it out in advance already on earth. I would like to give some examples.
The table stands for hospitality. Welcoming those who come, listening, taking time for them, sharing food. Witnessing to the resurrection of Christ means widening our friendship to include many, even those who are different from us. By showing hospitality we already live in advance something of the life of eternity with God.
We brothers would like to invite you all to the table of our community. But there are so many of you. In these past days those who are here for several weeks, and who help the volunteers with the work of the meetings, have come. Even with very little, a bowl of chocolate, it was a moment of celebration.
If, upon returning home, you could help your parishes to be places of hospitality and welcome to a greater extent. Our societies have a great need for such places. Through the pilgrimage of trust that we are continuing, we want to support you in this commitment. The European meeting in Rome at the end of the year will be a great opportunity for this.
In November, we will hold a young adult meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, and we know that we will find very generous hospitality there. Perhaps that is even the main reason to go there. Throughout the summer there are Rwandans among us; they are helping us prepare.
I often marvel at the ability of so many Africans, across the continent, to go through trials with perseverance, never discouraged, but who, even in difficult situations, always have moments of joy and celebration.
When thinking about Africa, too often we focus on the problems and forget that in Africa there are so many men and women who have allowed the Church and peoples to advance towards greater unity and peace.
For all who take part, whether African or European, the meeting in Kigali will be an encouragement to be witnesses to Christ, to say by our life that his peace is active among human beings, to express that this peace is stronger than the violence we see in the world but that is also hidden in our hearts.
I want to say one more thing. In Rome and Kigali, prayer together will be at the heart of our gathering, as it is here in Taizé. That is where Christ welcomes us to his table. And what does he give us? His Word and the Eucharist.
Hearing a word is more that welcoming a message; it also means welcoming the person who speaks to us. Let us listen to Christ, to his word that we can read in the Gospels. Even if we do not understand much, in this way we are already welcoming Christ. A bit like a baby who needs to hear the voice of her mother, even if she does not yet understand the meaning of her words.
Christ also invites us to the table of the Eucharist. The night before he died Jesus gathered his disciples, took bread, broke it for them and said to them: “This is my body.” Never has anyone spoken like this, never will anyone else say such words.
Christ loves us so much that he wants to give himself to us without reserve. He wants to be our strength, our healing; he unites himself to us. He enables us already to live in this way a foretaste of the life that never ends. Let us meditate more upon this mystery of our faith.
In the world we see so much violence. Tonight, when the prayer continues, we will pray particularly for those who are experiencing violence in Syria.
Christ sends us as witnesses so that we may communicate his peace by the lives we live. Each of us can do this, wherever we live, even if sometimes we feel poor and needy. Being witnesses to the peace of Christ will give new dynamism to our existence.
Yes, Christ tells us: “I need you so that the world may believe that my words are true.”