This week we are celebrating a special anniversary. Fifty years ago, on August 6, 1962, the church in which we are gathered was inaugurated. You may know that it is called the “Church of Reconciliation.” Our brother Denis, who is an architect, designed it and young Germans from “Aktion Sühnezeichen,” an organization created for reconciliation after the World War, assumed the work of building it.
Over the years, this church has been altered and extended because Brother Roger was constantly preoccupied by this desire: that all who enter this church could understand that it is God who welcomes them. For the inauguration Brother Roger had written these words:
Those who come to Taizé are seeking, whether they know it or not, an object that is beyond them. If they ask us for bread, would we offer them stones to contemplate? After being here in this Church of Reconciliation, rather than taking away the memory of the walls, may they remember the call for reconciliation and make it the daily bread of their life.
Brother Roger invites us to make reconciliation our daily bread. This means first of all welcoming the peace of God, believing that God welcomes us without any preconditions. It is not only that he accepts us as we are, but he loves each and every one of us deeply, madly, one might even say, and for all time.
Jesus came to reveal this love of God. He did it by going all the way, by going to the cross, when he experienced the greatest darkness ever. May we understand that he bears our burdens and our sins and that with him we find peace of heart, inner reconciliation.
This church was inaugurated on August 6th, the day each year when we celebrate the Transfiguration of Christ. You see the icon of the Transfiguration in the front of the church. We should meditate more often on this important moment in the life of Jesus; we will find there brand-new light.
Before his passion, when he would be terribly disfigured, three disciples saw, for a brief moment, Jesus shining with a light that was beyond anything they knew. They saw who Jesus really was—the One sent from God, the Son of God.
In our prayer, often so simple and sometimes very poor, this light of Christ touches our heart, even if we do not experience it with our senses.
Brother Roger also wrote fifty years ago:
It is no coincidence that the inauguration of the Church of Reconciliation was fixed for the Feast of the Transfiguration. Indeed, we must remind ourselves that Christ accomplishes his work of transfiguration within us and in our neighbours. He converts the deepest resistances which oppose reconciliation. With his light he enters, little by little, into the darkest of our shadows.
These words of Brother Roger remain true. We welcome the reconciliation of Christ in many ways: in the Eucharist, in praying the Our Father, and even by simply saying from the bottom of our heart this age-old prayer: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, come and help me.”
And when we doubt God’s forgiveness, perhaps because of a serious offense, in the sacrament of reconciliation we can hear, through a human voice, the assurance of being forgiven.
We welcome God’s forgiveness to the end when we share it with others. So we ask God: enable us all to be, by our lives, bearers of peace and reconciliation wherever we live, in our families, among those around us, between separated Christians, among the peoples of the earth.
It is true that we know of situations where forgiveness is extremely difficult to show and even, at times at least, impossible. In such a situation, it is even more important to keep our hearts at peace, to believe that Christ already bears this situation with us and that the desire to forgive is already a first step.
Sharing the daily bread of reconciliation that we receive: we would always, and especially today, like to make a concrete gesture in this direction. So we thought of a country which is newly independent and emerging from two decades of war: South Sudan. With “Operation Hope,” which supports projects in different continents, we will support, now and for the next three years, deprived children in the town of Rumbek.
You know that before the European meeting in Rome we will hold an African meeting in Rwanda, in November. Three youth chaplains from this country are with us, two priests and a minister. Their presence is precious to help us prepare for this meeting. They will be leaving on Sunday.
We would like to tell them that we go along with them by our prayers. That the difficult reconciliation which Rwandans are striving to practice, after the terrible genocide they experienced, may go deep. Their admirable effort at reconciliation is a call for us all: that Christ’s reconciliation may take hold of our hearts, that we may make reconciliation our daily bread, so that a hope for peace may arise for all human beings.
Let me again quote a few words which Brother Roger wrote for the inauguration of this church, words which could stay with us for a while:
A man or woman reconciled with themselves and with their neighbors rediscovers a vital energy ( ...) a dynamism, a new springtime.
As every evening, the prayer will continue with singing. We are praying in communion with the young Africans from many different countries together now in Tlemcen, in Algeria.