The words of the young Iraqi, Aziiz, were welcomed by a long applause and attentive gazes of more than a thousand Gen attending their annual congress. They listened closely as he recounted the drama that he and his family had lived through in Qaraqosh, a town on the Nineveh Plain, when the militiamen of the self-styled Islamic state arrived.
“Before telling you my story,” Aziiz began, “I’d like to ask you a question. Have you ever thought that you could one day lose everything? Your family home with all of your most cherished memories, your friends, dreams and your people? That’s what happened to me….” The suffering of the escape from his hometown with his family towards Iraqi Kurdistan was still visible in his eyes: “I wondered why I had to go through this Calvary, and that’s where the experience began of finding myself living with Jesus Forsaken. I felt like I was in an action film, where I couldn’t differentiate between what was real and what was imaginary: masses of people walking on foot in search of a way to escape, tears, cries…. I was stiffened by the pain, but I said to myself that perhaps I could smile back at the people next to me. With us there was a group from the Yazidi religion, who were in need of even more help, because ISIS had inflicted torture on them. I put my fears aside in order to be close to them and to offer them support.”
Aziiz and his family are now taking refuge in France. It was a difficult decision, given the thousands of challenges they would have to face, but he never felt abandoned by God’s love “whose invisible hand continues to wipe away our tears and lightens our sufferings.” We young people possess an enormous potential for changing the world, beginning with the small things: either we live to change something and make the world better; or our life is meaningless.”
Chiara Lubich’s words spoken to the Gen2 in 1967 sounded timely as well as prophetic: “Rumours and news of wars sadden the world horizon. Perhaps in the Middle or Far East some of our Gen (…) were or are in danger of dying. Our very goal – to help peace in the world – seems painfully compromised. What will we do? Not be discouraged (…) The bombs fall and destroy houses and kill people: let love spread even more quickly to build a new society and a new world.”
“Fifty years have passed, but we’re still that same generation that never stops, said Gloria from Uganda, “that still wants to live the ideal that Chiara has given to us.” Damián from Argentina explains: “This is a moment of celebration for us. We revisited some important moments of the Gen Movement from past years, trying to revive each word that Chiara said to us.”
Testimonies were given by Gen from several countries, dialogue and reflection with music and song to celebrate the fifty years of intense life of the Focolare’s second generation.
In a video message, Focolare president, Maria Voce, invited the young people to follow the plan of love that God has for each one of them, following the example of Jesus who chose the Cross – love to the very end – to be generous and willing to work for a world of peace. During an enabling and very open discussion, Focolare co-president, Jesùs Morán, encouraged the Gen to live a life of love for others, opting for the least, the people that society rejects in an ever more divided world.
The more than a thousand young people departed with Chiara Lubich’s prophetic mandate: “It will be the second generation that will make the cry of Jesus Forsaken echo to the ends of the earth … And in that cry the entire world will breathe again.”