My beloved brothers, today we gather together, as a family united by faith, around the eternal place of our brothers Fr. Everaldo dos Santos and Bro. Martin Mbende. By visiting the cemetery, we want to acknowledge Fr. Aldo and Br. Martin who were part and gift for us. Fr. Aldo and Br. Martin came and died in the Philippines. They were called by God to come here to live for God’s people in the Philippines. They wanted to be with them in whatever situations. Our Founder said that it was the love of Christ that moved them to live their lives not only for themselves but for others too. They were inspired by the example of Jesus who sacrificed himself and asked us to love others.
Moreover, our brothers died in the Philippines. They died in the land where God appointed them to their divine mission. Here we see again, how our beloved brothers who lived and died not for themselves but for others. They were the grains which die to produce and save many (cf John 12:24-26). It is like Jesus Christ who came, lived and died not for himself but for us. He saved us from our sins. Walang sinuman ang nabubuhay para sa sarili lamang, walang sinuman ang namamatay para sa sarili lamang (No one lives and dies for his or herself but for others too). In this point we can say that our brothers are a gift for us for they gave us a profound example of how to live our life as a Christian and missionary; to live and die for others and God in mission land. By doing so, we make our life and death meaningful to others as our beloved brothers, Fr. Aldo and Br. Martin profoundly did.
As we grow older, we have more and more people to remember; people like Fr. Aldo and Br. Martin who have died before us. It is very important to remember those who have loved us and those we have loved. Remembering them means letting their spirits inspire us in our daily lives. Our remembrance of Fr. Aldo and Br. Martin means we want to let their spirit of joy of Fr. Aldo and spirit of humility of Br. Martin to inspire us. They can become part of our spiritual communities, companions, and gently help for us in our journey. Fr. Francesco Marini, S.X. said: “our departed brothers can become our companions who encourage and accompany us to journey in the same path of mission love.” Thus, remembering our departed brothers, Fr. Aldo and Br. Martin, is choosing their ongoing companionship in our life and mission to make the world a single family.
My brothers, by visiting the tombs of Fr. Aldo and Br. Martin, we want to befriend with our death who somehow becomes our woundedness, brokenness, weakness as humans. We know very well that one day we also will die. Our coming to this place gives us a sign that we are little by little trying to befriend and embrace with our death that one day we will face it. We want to accept it as a gift and a blessing for us and others too. Through our death, we, together with the saints, can pray for our brothers and sisters who are still journeying their life and try to accomplish the mission of God here on earth. Amen
[This reflection is based on Henri Nouwen’s reflection about death and adapted to our context, commemoration of Fr. Aldo and Br. Martin. I took also from the teaching of our Founder, St. Guido Maria Conforti.]