On 1 February 2023, we had the profound joy of participating in the Eucharist celebrated by Pope Francis on the occasion of his visit to the DRC. The deep desire we had was to listen to him and to be blessed by the successor of Peter.
In this context of wars, killings, injustice and multiform crises that the DRC is going through, particularly in the East of the country, the announcement of his arrival meant that the whole Congolese population was waiting for the Vicar of Christ with great hope and his message as a source of comfort...
His landing on Congolese soil aroused intense joy in everyone, young and old, Christians and non-Christians alike.
The Holy Father stressed the long-awaited comfort in his homily: "The peace that Jesus gives us is like a greeting, but also like a gift. (Jn. 20:19). Peace comes when everything seems to be over; Jesus reaches out to us when we are on the verge of sinking". Above all, it is Peace that the Congolese people are asking for, and the Supreme Pontiff exhorted us to draw from three sources can help us to cultivate peace: forgiveness, community and mission.
Forgiveness: an attitude that consists in opening one's heart to others with love. This is what Jesus did in the face of the wretchedness of those who denied and abandoned him. He shows his wounds and opens the wellspring of mercy. When things are not going well, we know where to look, to the wounds of Jesus. With Jesus there is always the possibility of forgiving and starting again, and the strength to forgive ourselves, others and history. Let us open the doors of our hearts to his peace.
The community: Jesus does not address his disciples individually, but he meets them together, in community; he speaks to them in the plural. There is no Christianity without community, there is no peace without brotherhood. In order not to fall into the trap of the spirit of worldliness, we must share with the poor, look at the poor and listen to them, for they are the members of our community. We have to open our hearts to others.
Mission: "As the father sent me, so I send you" Jn 20:21. The father sent him to serve and give his life for humanity (Mk 10:45). He sent him for all. We are called to be missionaries of peace and this will bring us peace in return. It is a choice, and it means making room in our hearts for all. It is to believe that ethnic, social, regional and religious differences are not obstacles, but riches; to believe that others are members of the same human community, to believe that all are recipients of the peace brought into the world by Jesus. A call to be the conscience of peace in the world, to collaborate with all, to break down violence, to be witnesses of love.
Personally, I was touched by this third source of peace which is linked to our Holy Family mission: "unity in diversity", in other words, welcoming difference to promote collaboration, and bring peace and life to all. This is what Jesus expects of us. And if I look closely, I discover that this is what our society and our living environments need so much. We need audacity, courage and a solid faith to correspond to the mission that Christ gave to his Church, the same mission that our Founder received.
Sr. Estelle LADZOU
Community of Bibwa/ Kinshasa/DRC