What have we learned from the pandemic? Which tools can we use to build a new world? What specific contribution can each of us make? From Maria Voce’s spontaneous words to a Focolare community in Italy on 16th July.
For a number of years, July 16th has been a double celebration for the Focolare communities around the world. It’s the anniversary of the special pact of unity between Chiara Lubich and Igino Giordani in 1949 and also the birthday of Focolare President, Maria Voce. Once again this year the celebration became an opportunity for spontaneous and informal dialogue – in which Maria Voce spoke from her heart about the meaning of that special day, about the life of the Focolare in recent months and the contribution the charism of unity can make at this crucial time for humanity. She had received many greetings, good wishes and much affection from all over the world and for this reason she wanted, and wants, to thank each person in a special way. We publish below part of what she said, with extracts from amateur video footage of that occasion.
“… The pandemic has taught us a great lesson, hasn’t it? We must recognise this. It has made us suffer and is still making us suffer. We don’t know how many painful consequences will still come from this pandemic, do we? But it has also been a great lesson. The main lesson was telling us ‘you are all equal’. You are all equal: whether rich or poor, powerful or wretched, children, adults, immigrants … you are all equal. That’s the first thing.
Second: even though you are all equal, some people are suffering more than others despite this equality. So what makes you all equal? You are all equal because God made you all equal. You are very different from each other but you are all his children. You have all been created by him with the same love, a great love. Then human beings came and began to differentiate between people, and we keep on doing this. So, yes to one person, no to another; one person is worth more, another less. This person can give me something, but that one can’t; this person is exploiting me, that one isn’t … and we start differentiating between people.
What happens when we do that? The result is that there are some countries where hospitals are well-equipped and countries where they are not. There are countries where there are enough masks for everyone and others where there are not.
There are places, even here in Italy, with very good internet connection and where distance schooling is possible, and other places that don’t have it. So we are all equal before God but not all equal in the eyes of other people, where real care for all is not there. Does this hold true for us too? Perhaps I too am more willing to spend time with one person than with another and I differentiate between one person and another. I’ve seen this too and so am I really living the pact if I am like that, the pact that tells us to be ready to die for one another, not only for people I like, but any person at all?
Today people are saying we must create a new world, a new humanity. Everyone says that a new world must be created. However, in a small way, Chiara made a new world. Chiara’s family scattered across the globe is already a new world, at least in a small way. Of course it’s just a start, a model, a small sign, but it shows that it is possible. So, if it has been possible for this little group (which is only relatively little because it numbers hundreds of thousands around the world) to do this in a small way, I ask, is this little people, Chiara’s people, ready to tell everyone that a new world is possible?
It is possible: we must be convinced that it is possible and remember the thought for today, “Believe in the power of love.” So, first of all, let’s believe that love is a powerful force. Have we experienced it? Yes, we have experienced it very often. But now, it has diminished a little; the thermometer of love has gone down. Let’s put some more mercury in the thermometer and make it rise. Let’s increase the amount of love in the world and you’ll see that everything else will rise up. We will be a reality that goes through the world doing good to all. And we’ll do this without having to say, “You know, we do things in this way; come with us because we are like this.” No, we are who we are; we are just like the others; we are poor wretches like everyone else, but we live in paradise and we don’t want to leave this paradise. But we want to be with others. We don’t want stay among ourselves in paradise. We want to bring this paradise to others and not keep it for ourselves, because it’s comfortable … and let the world get lost. No! The world must be saved; we must help save the world with our love.”