Missionaries of Mother Teresa: Christmas with HIV +s

January 9, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kolkata, December 20, 2013: Brother Yesudas, director of the Shanti Bavan men’s hostel, is about to leave on a new mission. The past nine years during which he helped men with HIV/AIDS fill with gratitude for “the struggles, the pain, criticism, non-cooperation, jealousy, humiliation, and above all the joy of seeing the resurrected life in so many young men.” At Christmas, he calls on others to open their hearts to those “who suffer discrimination and non-acceptance.”

Missionaries of Mother TeresaDear friends, our great poet of Calcutta, Rabindranath Tagore, asks us in Gitanjali, “Have you not heard His silent steps? He comes, comes, ever comes. God walking in silence.” Christmas is God’s coming in silence. It is a celebration of the silent God who comes in our human condition to love us and be with us. I want to wish each of you a happy and joyful Christmas with the love of this silent God.

The Shanti Bavan compound is a quiet place. For the last nine years, I have been growing, hearing the silent steps of the silent God, who comes to me through the silent suffering people whom we brothers and sisters serve.

Now the time has come for me to move from the silence of Shanti Bavan to another destination. Our life in the Missionaries of Charity is so rich, and human needs are so varied, that we cannot put all our time and energies into a single dimension. Our vocation calls us to be open to needs anywhere.

All that I experienced – the struggles, the pain, criticism, non-cooperation, jealousy, humiliation, and above all the joy of seeing the resurrected life in so many young men – fills me with gratitude. The silent God has used my powerlessness and my weakness for His wonders for the people who are suffering.

I can only surrender to Him with immense gratitude, to the way he brought life and joy through us to so many young men dying of HIV/AIDS related diseases.

The Year of Faith was a deep experience of walking with this silent God. I was able to lead three groups of sisters and one group of young people through reflection on the Word of God.

It was a simple path of rediscovering our path of faith and love through Jesus Christ. The Year of Faith also was a silent walk with suffering men in their last stage of HIV/AIDS.

In this year of faith, I watched 37 young men die. I also gazed at the face of their dear mothers and wives. The tears that rolled from their eyes, the way they gazed at their dying sons and husbands were tears of pain and gratitude, the gaze of faith. From their gaze flew care, love, compassion and forgiveness.

We accepted many young men this year. One of them was Gautam Samanto, 42. He was in the last stage of his HIV/AIDS infection, paralysed and totally blind. He had developed big bed sores. His second wife, Joyshree, is crippled and could not take care of him. She could only gaze at his face and tenderly place her hand on his face and head. The day before he died he looked at her and said, “Joyshree, Tumi Amaka Koro Koma” (Joyshree, forgive me).

When he died, she was seven-month pregnant. She is also infected with HIV. A month ago, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. On Sunday 24 November, she came to visit me. Her eyes full of tears, she told me, “My husband’s family does not want me; my parents did not want me. I have no place to live.” Her tears, the aching voice in which she said, “I have no place to go”, are the silent steps of God asking me to live His silent helplessness.

I leave this silent helplessness for your Christmas celebration. May it help you and your dear ones live your life in faith and love towards the many people who suffer discrimination and non-acceptance. This may be in your family, community or surroundings. If you open your hearts to them, the silent God will do wonders through you. This wonder of God is a true Christmas that brings joy and grace.

Wish you all a joyful and grace-filled Christmas and New Year.

– asianews

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