S. John Paul II Homil. 594
595 Sunday, 7 February 1993
Baana bange abaagalwa,
Katonda Kitaffe tumugulumize.
(My beloved sons and daughters,
I greet you all.
Thanks for coming.
Let us praise God our Father).
"The effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth" (Ep 5,9).
1. Today is Sunday. Jesus Christ, the Light of the world (cf. Jn. Jn 8,12), is risen from the dead! At the Shrine of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda, we have gathered to celebrate Christ the Light of the world.
596 Christís Resurrection fulfilled the words spoken to the Holy City Jerusalem by the Prophet Isaiah: "Your light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising on you... above you the Lord now rises and above you his glory appears" (Is 60,1-2).
Isaiah then said: "The nations come to your light... your sons from far away" (Ibid. 60: 3-4). Yes. From far away the nations have come: from countless lands and peoples of the earth. For two thousand years. You too have come, people of Uganda, sons and daughters of Africa. You too have seen the light of Christís Resurrection. The light which produces "complete goodness and right living and truth".
2. This is the place where Christís light shone on your land with a particular splendour. This was the place of darkness, Namugongo, where Christís light shone bright in the great fire which consumed Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions. May the light of that holocaust never cease to shine in Africa!
The heroic sacrifice of the Martyrs helped to draw Uganda and all of Africa to Christ, the true light which enlightens all men (Cf. ibid. 1: 9). Men and women of every race, language, people and nation (cf. Rev. Ap 5,9) have answered Christís call, have followed him and have become members of his Church, like the crowds which come on pilgrimage, year after year, to Namugongo.
Today, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Saint Peter, has also come on pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Uganda Martyrs. Following in the footsteps of Pope Paul VI, who raised these sons of your land to the glory of the altars and later was the first Pope to visit Africa, I too wish to plant a special kiss of peace on this holy ground.
From this place I am pleased to greet the President of the Republic of Uganda and the representatives of the Government who honour us by their presence.
I greet all the members of the Church in Uganda. I rejoice to greet Archbishop Emmanuel Wamala and all my Brother Bishops of Uganda, particularly the Bishops of the South: Bishop Adrian Ddungu of Masaka, Bishop Joseph Willigers of Jinja and Bishop Joseph Mukwaya of KiyindaĖMityana. I also welcome all the Cardinals and Bishops who have come from other countries to take part in this celebration. I greet the priests and the men and women Religious who have devoted their lives to serving their brothers and sisters in the faith. Today too my greetings go in a special way to Ugandaís lay faithful. I embrace you with love in the Lord Jesus. You are the heirs of the strong and faithful lay leaders with which the Church in Uganda was blessed from the beginning.
3. "You were darkness once", Saint Paul told the Ephesians, "but now you are light in the Lord" (Ep 5,8).
How eloquent were the words of Pope Paul VI in his homily at the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs!
"Who could foresee", the Pope asked, "that with the great historical figures of African martyrs and confessors like Cyprian, Felicity and Perpetua and the outstanding Augustine, we should one day list the beloved names of Charles Lwanga, Matthias Mulumba Kalemba and their twenty companions?" (Paul VI, Homily on the occasion of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs, 18 October 1964).
Truly the Uganda Martyrs became light in the Lord! Their sacrifice hastened the rebirth of the Church in Africa. In our own days, all Africa is being called to the light of Christ! Africa is being called again to discover her true identity in the light of faith in the Son of God. All that is truly African, all that is true and good and noble in Africaís traditions and cultures, is meant to find its fulfilment in Christ. The Uganda Martyrs show this clearly: they were the truest of Africans, worthy heirs of the virtues of their ancestors. In embracing Jesus Christ, they opened the door of faith to their own people (Cf. Ac 14,27), so that the glory of the Lord could shine on Uganda, on Africa.
597 4. Here at Namugongo, it is right that we give thanks to God for all those who have worked and prayed and shed their blood for the rebirth of the Church on this Continent. We give thanks for all who have carried on the work of the Martyrs by striving to build a Church that is truly Catholic and truly African.
In the first place, I wish to acknowledge the outstanding service provided by your catechists.In recent times some of them, like the martyrs of old, have even been called to give their lives for Christ. The history of the Church in Uganda clearly shows that generations of catechists have offered "a singular and absolutely necessary contribution to the spread of the faith and of the Church" (cf. Ad Gentes AGD 17) in your country.
How obvious this was even at the dawn of Christianity in Uganda! Despite the fact that they themselves had only recently come to know Christ, your Martyrs joyfully shared with others the good news about the One who is "the way and the truth and the life" (Jn 14,6). They understood that "faith is strengthened when it is given to others" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 2).
Dear Catechists: What you have freely received, you must freely give! (cf. Mt. Mt 10,8) Deepen your knowledge of the Churchís faith, so that you can share its treasures ever more fully with others. Always strive to think with the Church. Above all else you must be devoted to personal prayer. Only if your ministry is nourished by prayer and sustained by genuine Christian living will it bear lasting fruit.Your catechesis can never be only instruction about Christ and his Church. It must also be a school of prayer, where the baptized learn to grow into an ever deeper and more conscious relationship with God the Father, with Jesus, the firstĖborn of many brothers and sisters (cf. Rom. Rm 8,29), and with the Holy Spirit, the giver of eternal life.
The effects of Christís light must clearly be seen in the goodness of your lives! You must be examples of a faith that is rooted in a personal relationship to Jesus, lived in full communion with the Church. Your faith must be clearly seen in your obedience to the Gospel, in your lives of charity and service, and in your missionary zeal towards those who still do not believe or who no longer live the faith they received at Baptism.
Take to heart Saint Paulís lesson: be examples of patience and charity towards all people, mindful that if you have not love, then you are nothing at all (cf. 1Cor. 1Co 13).
5. "You are light in the Lord!" How brightly the light of Christ shines in the lives of the lay men and women committed to the pursuit of holiness in the quiet and often hidden circumstances of their lives! In particular I wish to express the Churchís esteem for the women of Uganda. I encourage you: do not be afraid to let your voices be heard! God has given Ugandan women important gifts to share for the building of a more human and loving society, a society which respects the dignity of all people, especially of children and those most in need. How important is the apostolate of Christian families for the growth of society and of the Church! Christian married couples: be faithful to each other! Never forget the sacred calling you have received to pass on the faith and to train the younger generation to live in a way pleasing to God. Africa needs the witness of Christian families, families which are schools of generosity, patience, dialogue and respect for the needs of others!
I am pleased to see here the representatives of the various Associations and Ecclesial Movements which play so important a role in the life of your local Churches. Dear friends: your desire for holiness and authentic Christian living is a great gift of God to the Church in our time. Be of one mind and heart with the Churchís pastors. Jesus is calling you to be missionaries of his love, and a leaven of reconciliation and renewal in the midst of his People. I encourage your efforts to bring the Good News of Christ to all, particularly to the lukewarm and to those who are not reached by the Churchís ordinary pastoral care.
6. "Shine out, for your light has come!" (Is 60,1).
Christís words are addressed to you, the lay faithful of Uganda! To each of you Christ says: "Your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven" (Mt 5,16).
How much the people of Uganda need the light of the Gospel in order to dispel the darkness still left by long years of civil unrest, violence and fear. Today, Uganda stands at the crossroads: her people need the salt of Godís word to bring out the virtues of honesty, goodness, justice, concern for the dignity of others, which alone can guarantee the rebuilding of their country on a firm foundation.
598 Uganda needs to hear the word of God! How many of your brothers and sisters have still not met Christ! To all of you I repeat today that challenge which Pope Paul VI left to you: you must become missionaries to yourselves! Let your enthusiasm for evangelization be accompanied by an ever more sincere commitment to work for the unity of all who profess the name of Christ. Relations between Christians should be marked by harmony and a spirit of mutual respect. Despite divisions, efforts to promote Christian unity are themselves a powerful sign of the reconciliation which God wishes to accomplish in our midst (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 50).
7. Laity of Uganda! "You must be the salt of the earth and the light of the world" (cf. Mt. Mt 5,13-14). If your works contain the salt of "goodness, right living and truth", then your lives will truly become light for your neighbours.
Christ calls you to lead a life pleasing to God. When you were reborn in the waters of Baptism, you were made a new creation, given a share in his divine life and sent forth to bear witness to the One who called us out of darkness into his kingdom of light (cf. Col. Col 1,13).
Saint Paul says it very clearly: "Have nothing to do with the futile works of darkness" (Ep 5,11). You have renounced Satan and his works. You have been bought at the price of Christís Blood, so you must never deny him by turning to idols, or by abandoning your Christian way of life for the empty promises of a culture of death! "You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord" (Ibid. 5: 9). Let the Martyrs be your inspiration! They did not profess Christ with their lips alone. They showed their love for God by keeping his commandments (cf. 1Jn. 1Jn 5,3). Christís image shone forth in them with a spiritual power that even now draws people to him. In their lives and in their deaths, the Martyrs revealed the power of the Cross, the power of a faith that is stronger than fear, a life that triumphs over death, a hope that lights up the future, and a love that reconciles the bitterest of enemies.
8. "The Lord will be your everlasting light" (Is 60,20). I thank God for this opportunity to celebrate the Holy Eucharist with you at the Shrine of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda. The Martyrs were called upon, amid this beloved African people, to "shine in the sight of men" (Mt 5,16). In them Christís parables of salt and light have been fulfilled. In their earthly life, the Martyrs "tried to discover what the Lord wants" (cf. Eph. Ep 5,10) and acted in a way worthy of the calling they had received. As followers of Christ, they were ready even to give their lives for him.
The Holy Spirit "lit this light" in Namugongo. Through the ministry of the Church, he also ensured that the light would not remain hidden, but would "shine for everyone in the house" (cf. Mt. Mt 5,15): in your house, in Uganda and in all Africa.
Mwebale okumpuliriza. Kristu abeere ekitangaala Mu Africa Yonna.
(Grazie per avermi ascoltato. Possa Cristo essere la luce di tutta líAfrica).
Monday, 8 February 1993
Abagonzebwa omu Kristo,
599 (Dearly beloved in Christ,
How are you?)
1. Mukama waitu Yesu Kristo natugambira ati, Itwena tube baum. (Our Lord Jesus Christ has told us that we should all be one). On the night before he died, Christ prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples: "Father may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me" (Jn 17,21).
God himself is one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And the roots of the unity of all Christís followers reach into the very depths of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, where the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, through the Spirit of Love who proceeds from the Father and the Son. That same Love the Father poured out upon the world in Jesus Christ: "God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16).
Today, here in Kasese, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, has been given the grace of celebrating the Eucharist with you, the faithful of the WestĖCentral part of Uganda. Gathered in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we acknowledge and rejoice in the unity which binds us together in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The night before his sacrifice on the Cross for the redemption of the world, the Son prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples: for the Apostles and for those who would come afterwards, from generation to generation. He prayed for the unity of all those who through the Apostlesí words would believe in him (Cf. ibid. 17: 20). Thus he prayed for the unity of the particular Churches among themselves, and for the unity of the particular Churches with the Bishop of Rome.
2. The Eucharist is the most complete sign of our unity. And so with great affection in our Lord Jesus Christ I greet all of you, especially those who have travelled great distances in order to take part in this solemn event. In the shadow of Rwenzori Mountain, whose mighty peaks silently bless the Lord (cf. Dan. Da 3,75), I greet your Bishops: Bishop Egidio Nkaijanabwo of Kasese, whom I thank for his cordial words of welcome; and Bishop Paul Bakyenga of Mbarara, Bishop Paul Kalanda of Fort Portal, Bishop Deogratias Byabazaire of Hoima, and Bishop Barnabas HalemíImana of Kabale, as well as Bishop Serapio Bwemi Magambo, Bishop emeritus of FortĖPortal, and Bishop John Baptist Kakubi, Bishop emeritus of Mbarara. I greet you, the priests, Religious and laity of the whole Western region of Uganda.
I extend a warm greeting to the representatives of other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and to the followers of other religions. I gratefully acknowledge the presence of the civil authorities, involved in the noble task of serving the common good of their fellowcitizens.
Bishop Nkaijanabwo has spoken of the great natural beauty of the Rwenzori Mountains and the numerous rivers which flow down from its peaks and water the land. Inspired by this image as we celebrate the Eucharist, let us open our hearts to the stream of living water which Christ gives to those who believe in him, until it becomes a spring of water welling up to eternal life (cf. Jn. Jn 4,14).
3. In the priestly prayer of Jesus in the Upper Room on the night before he died, there is a distant but faithful echo of the words of the Prophet Ezekiel, which we have heard in todayís liturgy: "I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land" (Ez 36,24).
The Prophet uttered these words thinking of the sons and daughters of Israel living in exile in the Diaspora. How they desired to return home! How they wished to rebuild the ancient unity of the people of God around the Temple in Jerusalem! Jesus, on the other hand, speaks of a much deeper unity: a unity capable of overcoming every barrier and every division, a unity of mind and heart which has its source in God himself. For Jesus prayed: "Father may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you... with me in them and you in me" (Jn 17,21).
600 "With me in them". This is the great objective that I wish to propose to the Christian faithful of Western Uganda: that Christ may so live in you, through your faith and holiness of life, that no ethnic difference, no social or religious difference, will stand in the way of a real solidarity in building the common good.
4. In this region, with its mountains and plains inhabited by many different peoples, there has been a great movement of population. In most places people from various ethnic backgrounds and languages live side by side. Should not everyone, especially the religious leaders and the civil authorities, work hard to create an awareness of membership in a wider regional and national community, a membership which calls for everyone to play a part in the common task of rebuilding Ugandaís social fabric?
The tragic events of the recent past have left a painful inheritance. During those dark years the Bishops bravely nourished the hope that peace and unity would one day prevail. Let us together give thanks for their pastoral zeal and for the Christian witness of the countless faithful whose heroism, charity and sacrifice added yet another splendid chapter to the history of the Church in Africa.
Now is the "acceptable time, the day of salvation", the day for all Ugandans to cast aside the traces of destructive divisions based on inequality, ethnic enmity and rivalry. The Gospel reminds us: "No town, no household divided against itself can stand" (Mt 12,25). So, your Bishops have written: "the time has come for us all as a nation to forgive one another and be reconciled, and start a new era of togetherness and solidarity" (Epist. Pastoralis Let Your Light Shine, 36). I make these words my own and entreat you to be reconciled with God and with one another (cf. 2Cor. 2Co 5,20).
5. A spiritual conversion, a moral renewal is required if justice, peace and unity are to be firmly established. The Prophet teaches that God must put within us "a new heart" and "a new spirit" so that we shall live according to the divine will (cf. Ez. Ez 36,26). If there is discord between you, between members of the same family, between different groups, between regions, let Godís grace take away the "heart of stone" and replace it with the "heart of flesh" (Cf. ibid.). Let there be reconciliation and peace!
All of us have our origin from the same loving God, who "from one single stock... created the whole human race so that they could occupy the entire earth" (Ac 17,26). The human family is one! It is called to form a community free from discrimination based on race, colour, class or religion (cf. Nostra Aetate NAE 5). The differences between us should strengthen, not diminish, the unity and respect of all for one another. A community spirit, a sense of generous sharing, a warm hospitality towards others are among the most worthy aspects of traditional African culture. Recently, these qualities have inspired your praiseworthy generosity towards the many refugees from the civil strife in Rwanda. Let us pray hat efforts to end the conflict in that country will be successful and that the displaced will soon be enabled to return to their homes and families.
Having experienced at first hand the suffering caused when prejudice leads to hatred and violence, you know the importance of not permitting an exaggerated individualism and selfishness to threaten the virtues of solidarity, justice and peace which represent the only sure hope for the future of Ugandan society.
6. In this respect I wish to encourage the Church in Western Uganda to continue its dedicated work in certain areas of pastoral concern. First, in fostering a more and more effective family apostolate. Right from the opening pages of the Book of Genesis, it is clear that God intended man and woman to find each other, to love each other in a stable and faithful way, and responsibly to accept, nurture and educate the fruits of their love, their children. "This at last", Adam says contemplating his wife, "is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh. This is why a man leaves his father and his mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body" (Gn 2,23-24). This close, personal, monogamous union is not of Western origin, but rather corresponds to Godís plan for husband and wife. The marriage covenant is so noble, so close to Godís own way of being in the Trinity, that again and again the Scriptures compare Godís love for sinful humanity to the love of an infinitely faithful husband for his wife. Saint Paul boldly presents the selfĖsacrificing love of Christ for his Church as the symbol and model of every indissoluble marriage covenant (cf. Eph. Ep 5,25-33).
The positive sense of family bonds characteristic of African traditions, the seriousness of the matrimonial commitment as a basis of solidarity among related families Ė a solidarity which especially favours old people, widows and orphans, and produces a form of coĖresponsibility in caring for children Ė can contribute to strengthening Christian homes. It is the delicate task of priests, Religious and catechists to teach young couples how to bring this family dynamism into conformity with Godís plan for marriage and for the family. Marriage preparation courses should guide couples to the discovery of all the grace and spiritual strength available to them through the Sacrament which consecrates their love. With trust in the Lord they can set out on lifeís journey together, conscious of the threats to which their fidelity will be exposed but ready to face together whatever challenges may come.
7. I wish to urge your hardĖworking Bishops and priests to continue to make family life a priority of pastoral action. Groups and movements which support couples should be encouraged. Catholic couples can be of enormous help to other couples. Courses and days of prayer and study can play an important part in consolidating families. Where there are special difficulties, as for example when husbands are forced to go elsewhere in search of work, or in cases of sickness, or where there are other failings, the Christian community should show particular concern and offer concrete assistance in keeping strong the bonds of family life. I realize that, for many of you, your family roots are far away and it is difficult to create a community spirit. I am asking you, especially the young people, to take courage and to develop an intense concern for the common good. The State too should be firmly convinced of the importance of the family as the basis of an ordered society, and it should therefore follow policies which defend family values against attacks of all kinds.
8. Brothers and sisters, your joyful participation in this Liturgy is a reflection of the vitality of your parish life. I know that you are close to your priests and to the sisters and religious brothers who work in this part of Uganda. But they are not sufficient in numbers for all that has to be done. The Pope is asking you to pray for more priests and religious. He would like the young people to ask themselves whether Christ is calling them, and to be generous in responding if he does. There is so much to be done! In particular I wish to emphasize the role of women religious in evangelization and in nurturing the Catholic community. To all the sisters present I give a hearty thanks in the name of the Church.
601 And how could I forget to thank the catechists? And the Catholic teachers? Your admirable work, and the cooperation of the laity in lay councils and committees, is fundamental for the strengthening of the Churchís life in your parishes and dioceses. In everything there must be a great sense of unity around your Bishops.
And so we return to the theme of this Eucharist, in which Christís priestly prayer resounds with emphasis: "may they all be one". The Saviour wants us to be one so that the world may believe that it was the Father who sent him (cf. Jn. Jn 17,21). Every work of evangelization depends on this witness. If others are to believe, they must see that Christians are united.
They must see that we are one in love. The sacrifice of the cross, in fact, is the highest point of the mission of our Redeemer, and by it the world knows the love with which God loved all mankind. Every time we celebrate Christís paschal sacrifice in the Eucharist, Christ renews this love for each one of us.
Where does this love lead? It leads to eternal life in God: "I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world" (Jn 17,24). At the Last Supper Christ expressed his love for his disciples. Today in Kasese he expresses this same love for you. "Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and as he will be for ever" (Hebr. 13: 8). Through union with him, through our union with one another in him, we too become sharers in divine life: eternal life in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The people of Western Uganda are yearning for a better life, a more honest, just and peaceful life. This will only be possible if society respects and defends the spiritual dimension of manís life and his call to transcendence. The human heart is restless until it rests in God (Cf. Saint Augustine Confessions, I, 1: CSEL 33, s.1.). But we have a certain hope, for the Lord himself prayed for his people: "I have made your name known to them and I will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them and so that I may be in them" (Jn 17,26).
Engonzi za Yeso Kristo zikale omu mitima yanyu ebiro byoona.
Engonzi za Ruhanga zibe maani ganyu, inywena Abanya ĎUganda.
(May the love of Jesus reign in your hearts!
May God's love be the strength of all Ugandans!
602 Sports Grounds, Soroti (Uganda)
Tuesday, 9 February 1993
"What must we do, then?" (Lc 3,10).
Ikaitotoi angakaitotoi alotooma Kristo,
(Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,)
1. The crowds came to John the Baptist on the banks of the River Jordan. They heard his preaching. They took his words to heart. And so they responded by asking: "What must we do, then?" (Ibid.).
The Baptist was sent by God in the fullness of time, when "all mankind would see the salvation of God" (Cf. ibid. 3, 6). He was Godís messenger, a Prophet. The last and greatest of the Prophets. He was the voice crying in the wilderness: "Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight!... If you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruits" (Ibid. 3: 4.8).
His message was the ever valid and ever urgent message of repentance, which God addressed to the human family from the beginning, from the first moment of rebellion, through all the pages of the history of salvation. God repeatedly called sinful man to works of conversion and repentance, just as through Isaiah, who speaks to us in todayís liturgy: "Break unjust fetters... share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor; ...clothe the man you see naked, and do not turn from your own kin" (Is 58,6-7). In every age this dialogue between God and needy humanity goes on. So from the Prophets down to John the Baptist, the call is always the same: a call to repentance and conversion.Here today in Eastern Uganda, the whole people of God is being challenged to heed Godís call to change, to aspire to a better and higher Christian life: "Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight!" (Lc 3,4).
2. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I give heartfelt thanks to God who has let me come to visit you and to fulfil the ministry of the Successor of Peter in this part of your country. I greet Bishop Erasmus Wandera of Soroti and the other Bishops of the Eastern Dioceses: Bishop Denis Kiwanuka of Kotido, Bishop Henry Ssentongo of Moroto and Bishop James Odongo of Tororo. I express my affection for the priests: those who are sons of this land, and the Mill Hill Fathers, the White Fathers, the Verona Fathers and all who have come here to minister to Godís people, showing that the Church is a universal communion in which we are all responsible for one another.
Men and women Religious, both from abroad or sons and daughters of the local Churches of this region, your very consecration places you at the heart of the Churchís evangelizing mission. I express to you the Popeís gratitude, and I wish to encourage you to bear joyful witness in your life and work to the perennial truths and values of Christís Kingdom.
Catechists and members of the laity, it is with profound joy that I celebrate this Eucharist here in Soroti and pray with you for your needs and for the good of the whole Ugandan people.
603 I greet the members of other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities who are with us at this solemn event, and I welcome the followers of all the other religious traditions who are present here today.
3. "What must we do, then?" (Lc 3,10).
This same question arises in our own hearts. Just as in the Old Testament the Prophets answered, and John the Baptist answered, and in the New Testament Jesus answered, so the Church must respond to the "old" and "new" questions which man poses. She must seek a response to the questions which affect the different communities and societies to which people belong.
But when the men and women of our day ask what they must do, the Church cannot fail to give the answer given by Christ himself: "Repent and believe the Good News" (Mc 1,15). To repent is to sin no more (cf. Jn. Jn 8,11). It is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind, and to love our neighbour as ourself (cf. Matth. Mt 22,38-39). It is to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Cf. ibid. 5: 48). To believe the Good News is to hear the words of John the Baptist: "Look, there is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" (Jn 1,29), and as a result to place our whole trust in Christ, the Redeemer who alone has the words of eternal life (Cf. ibid. 6: 68).
It is through the upright and holy lives of her members, and through their unshakable fidelity to Christ, that the Church grows among each people and in every part of the world. A clear example is the significance of the Uganda Martyrs for the life of the Christian community in this land. Over a hundred years ago, the noble Mulumba Matthias Kalemba acknowledged to Father Livinhac of the White Fathers that he had been searching for an answer to the question of what must be done. When he was dying, his fosterĖfather Magatto, of the Musu clan, told Matthias that men would one day come "to teach the right way". From his father he had learned to hunger for the light of truth, and when in Godís Providence it arrived, Matthias seized the precious gift of the Good News of salvation, never to let it go, even though it was to cost him his life.
The present generation of Ugandan Catholics must not let the light which the Martyrs caused to shine upon this land be dimmed!
4. When the Bishops of Uganda came to Rome for their ad Limina visit last May, we discussed some of the major questions facing the Church in this part of Africa. Then, in preparation for this visit, they published a Pastoral Letter in which they spoke of the programme of the Churchís action for the years leading up to the new Millennium, and they proposed that this visit by the Pope should serve as a reflection on the theme: "Your light must shine in the sight of people, so that seeing your good works, they give praise to your Father in heaven" (Mt 5,16). At each stage of this brief but intense visit I have referred to some particular aspect of what the Church in Uganda is called to do in order to prepare a brighter future for the People of God and in order to build a more just and united, humane and peaceful society (Cf. Epist. Pastoralis Let Your Light Shine, 2).
Among the "areas of priority" of the Catholic community of Uganda, the fundamental task of evangelization holds first place. Evangelization in fact is the realization of what John the Baptist calls for in todayís Gospel:
"Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths...
Winding ways will be straightened,
604 and rough roads made smooth,
and all mankind shall see the salvation of God" (Lc 3,4-6).
The fact that so many have not yet heard the Good News, and that some are lukewarm in their faith, means that the whole Christian community is being challenged to take seriously the mission to be apostles to others, the mission which each one has received in Baptism and Confirmation, and which is constantly nourished in the Eucharist (Epist. Pastoralis Let Your Light Shine, 30).
5. The mission to evangelize implies that Ugandan Christians must listen to the cries of all those in this country and throughout Africa pleading to be freed from so many forms of slavery: from ignorance, and from the oppression that weighs so heavily on the poor, the old and lonely, the sick, refugees, the defenceless young, and in particular the orphans of war and the orphans left by the AIDS epidemic. They all need your preferential and practical love. Whatever you do for them you do to Christ himself (cf. Matth. Mt 25,34-36).
Your Bishops have also urged the Church in Uganda to defend courageously human life and human dignity. Christians must make a clear and active option for justice: "Where justice is, peace flows like a river" (Epist. Pastoralis Let Your Light Shine, 35). Only by overcoming rivalry and hatred, only by putting aside the desire for revenge, only by forgiving and being reconciled, will the Christians of Uganda bear witness to the Light. Improving ecumenical relations, praying for Christian unity, fostering greater understanding and cooperation with the followers of Islam in human development and in building a new Uganda founded on justice and respect for human rights: all this is part of the task that lies before the Catholic community at the approach of a new Christian Millennium. I mention these points from your Bishopsí Pastoral Letter in order to confirm them, the Pastors, in their choice of priorities for the pastoral ministry during the coming years. But also to encourage all Ugandan Catholics to reflect deeply on the question in the Gospel reading: "What must we do, then?" (Lc 3,10). Your Bishops have indicated the way forward. May the whole Catholic community respond: like a lamp on a lampstand where it gives light to all in the household (cf. Matth. Mt 5,15).
6. The immediate future of the Churchís life on this continent will be profoundly influenced by the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. This important event is meant to help the particular Churches in Africa to pass on the light of the Gospel in all its fullness to the men and women of the next generation. The Holy Spirit is calling the Catholic Church in Africa to a new Pentecost, a new realization of the power of Godís love to sanctify the People of God and, through your work and testimony, to transform society and culture. Already, all over Africa people have been actively and fruitfully engaged in discussing the themes of the Assembly. Preparations for the Synod enter a new phase today in Kampala. I ask you to continue to pray for this important event, so that Africa will be bathed in Godís light, the light which shone out in the blessed martyrdom of Saint Matthias, Saint Charles, Saint Musaka, Saint Kizto and all their glorious Companions.
7. "All mankind shall see the salvation of God" (Lc 3,6).
The light which God sent when he gave the world his Son (cf. Jn. Jn 3,16) is meant for all peoples. The Baptist at the Jordan bore witness to the universal nature of redemption. Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John was moved by the Spirit of God to proclaim: "Look, there is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" (Ibid. 1: 29). Johnís words have remained at the very centre of the Mass: the offering of the bread and wine which, at this altar, will become the offering of Christ himself to the Father for our salvation.Yes, for the salvation of the world!
Today, in Soroti, I give thanks to God for being able to offer this Mass for the sanctification of Godís people in the Eastern region of Uganda. As the Successor of Saint Peter I have come to you to urge you to let your light shine in the sight of everyone, so that seeing your good works the whole of Africa will praise our Father in heaven (cf. Matth. Mt 5,16).
Iterereng lo asuban Africa!
Iterereng lo asuban Uganda!
605 Iterereng lo asuban iyes dadang kere!
(God bless Africa!
God bless Uganda!
God bless each one of you.
S. John Paul II Homil. 594