PASTORAL VISIT TO UGANDA AND PILGRIMAGE TO NAMUGONGO
On his visit to Africa, Pope Francis visited Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. He was in Uganda from the 27th to 29th of November 2015.
In December 2014, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the president of Uganda, wrote to the Vatican state officially inviting the Holy Father to Uganda.
The Holy See on 10th September 2015 officially communicated the acceptance of Pope Francis.
POPE FRANCIS ARRIVES
Pope Francis landed at Entebbe on 27th November at 05:05 PM aboard the Alitalia plane to a small crowd of the accredited persons. The Pope was welcomed by the Papal Nuncio Michael Blume, the President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and First Lady Janet Museveni.
The Pope was hosted at the state house, and then he visited Munyonyo Shrine, where he met catechists and teachers from across the country.
Among other places, the pope visited Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo, Kololo, where he met the youth, Rubaga Cathedral and Mapeera Bakateyamba’s Home at Nalukolongo where he interacted with people with disabilities.
HOMILY AT UGANDA MARTYRS SHRINE NAMUGONGO
‘I think of Saints Joseph Mukasa, Charles Lwanga, who after being evangelized by others, wanted to pass on the gift they received.’
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you’. And you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria to the end of the end of the earth. [Acts 1: 8].
From the age of the Apostles to our own day, a great cloud of witnesses own day has been raised up to proclaim Jesus and show forth the power of the Holy Spirit. Today, we recall with gratitude the sacrifice of the Uganda martyrs, whose witness of love for Christ and his church as truly gone “to the end of the earth.”
We remember also the Anglican martyrs whose deaths for Christ’s testify to the ecumenism of blood. All these witnesses nurtured the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives and freely gave testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ, even at the cost of their lives, many at such a young age.
We two have received the gift of the spirit, to make us sons and daughters of God, but also so that we may bear witness to Jesus and make him every known and loved.
We receive the spirit when we were reborn in baptism and we were strengthened by his gifts at our confirmation.
Every day we are called to deepen the Holy Spirit present in our lives, to “fan into flame” the gift of his divine love so that so that we may be a source of wisdom and strength to others.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is a gift which is meant to be shared. It unites us to one another as believers and living members of Christ’s mystical body. We do not receive the gift of Holy Spirit for us alone but to build up one another in faith hope and love.
I think of saints’ Joseph Mukasa and Charles Lwanga, who after being catechized by others, wanted to pass on the gift they had received. They did this in dangerous times. Not only were their lives threatened but so to were the lives of the lives of the young boy under care.
Because they attended to their faith and deepened their love of God, there were fearless in bringing Christ to others, even at the cost of their lives.
Their faith became a witness, today venerated as martyrs, their example continues to inspire people thought the world. They continue to proclaim Jesus Christ and the power of his cross.
If like the martyrs, we daily fan into flame the gift of the spirit who dwells in our hearts, then we will surely become the missionary disciples which Christ calls us to be. To our families and friends certainly, but also those whom we do not know especially those who might be unfriendly, and even hostile to us.
This openness to others begins first in the family, in our homes were charity and forgiveness are learned, and the mercy and the love of God made known in our parents love. It finds expression too in our care for the elderly and the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned.
Just as the mother and the seven sons of the second book of Maccabees encouraged one another in their moment of great trial (7:1-2, 9-14), so too, a member of Gods family, we are to assist one another, to protect one another, and to lead one another to their fullness of life.
Here, I think with gratitude of all those bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and the catechists who in many ways help to support Christian families may the church in this country continue especially thru through its communities, to assist young couples to prepare for marriage, to encourage couples to live the marital bond in love and fidelity, and to assist parents in their duty as the first teachers of the faith for their children.
Like the apostles and the Uganda martyrs before us, we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit to become missionary disciples called to go forth and bring the Gospel to all. At times this may take us to the end of the earth, as missionaries to faraway lands.
This is essential to the spread of Gods kingdom, and ask always for your generous response to this need. But we do not need to travel to be missionary disciples. In fact, we need only to open our eyes and see the needs in our homes and local communities to realize how many opportunities await us.
Here too the Uganda martyrs show us the way. Their faith sought the good of all people, including the very king who condemned them for their Christian beliefs.
Their response was to meet hatred with love, and thus to radiate the splendor of the Gospel. They did not simply tell the king what the Gospel does not allow but showed through their lives what saying “yes” to Jesus really means. It means mercy and purity of heart, being meek and poor in spirit, and thirsting for righteousness in the hope of an eternal reward.
The witness of the martyrs shows to all who have heard their story, then and now, that the worldly pleasures and earthly power do not bring lasting joy or peace.
Rather, fidelity to God, honesty, and integrity of life and genuine concern for the good of others bring us that peace which the world cannot give. This does not diminish our concern for this world, as if we only look to the life to come.
Instead, it gives purpose to our lives in this world, and helps us to reach out to those in need, to cooperate with others for common good, and to build a more just society which promotes human dignity, defends God’s gift of life and protects the wonders of nature, his creation and our common home.
Dear brothers and sisters, this is the legacy which you have received from the Uganda martyrs- lives marked by the power of the Holy Spirit, lives which witness even now to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This legacy is not served by an occasional remembrance, or by being enshrined in a museum as a precious jewel.
Rather, we honor them, and all the saints, when we carry on their witness to Christ, in our homes and neighborhoods, in our workplaces and civil society, whether we never leave our homes or we go to the farthest Conner of the world.
May the Uganda martyrs, together with Mary, mother of the church intercede for us and may the Holy Spirit kindle within us the fire of this divine love!
Omukama Abawe Omukisa! (God bless you!)”
Wherefore, O Lord, turn Yourself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Your infinite mercy, as a sweet Savior of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of You this day, we too ask it of You in unison with him.
Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Your great mercy, grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers up to You the Sacrifice of Your blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in his hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: ‘The peace of the Lord be with you always’, grant, O Lord, that Your sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power. Amen”