On February 22, 2021, near Goma, north of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in an attack on a United Nations convoy, the Italian ambassador in Congo, Lucas Attanasio, was killed along with the carabiniere of his escort, Vittorio Iacovacci, and the driver. Married and the father of three young girls, Lucas was 43 years old and one of the youngest in the world to hold such an important diplomatic rank. At his funeral on Saturday February 27, the Archbishop of Milan, Mario Delpini, delivered a homily that is a profound act of advocacy for justice, peace, brotherhood and reconciliation in this land of inequalities, in a world that became uncomfortable (Translation by Alissa D’Vale)
The time comes when each one is alone in the presence of the Lord.
The applause ends, the words are silent, the assembled people scatter and each one is alone in the presence of the Lord.
Deeds are forgotten, honors, titles, and decorations become insignificant and each one is alone in the presence of the Lord.
The news, the good words and the bitter words, the rhetoric and the celebrations lose interest and each one is alone in the presence of the Lord.
The Gospel page [we just read] describes what the Lord will be able to say to me, what I will be able to say to the Lord, when, like everyone else, I will be alone in the presence of the Lord.
The Lord will say: “Where did you come from brother Lucas?”
And, Lucas will answer: “I come from a land where life doesn’t matter; I come from a land where people die and nobody cares, where they kill and nobody cares, where good is done and nobody cares. I come from a land where a person’s life does not matter, and where they make the persons suffer for no reason and without any apologies!”
The Lord will say: “Don’t say that, Lucas, my brother. I write your name in the book of life as the name of a brother whom I love, as a brother who is dear to me, whom I wish to welcome to share the life and the joy of God! Don’t say that brother. I bless you for each glass of water and for each bread shared, for the hospitality you have offered me. You will be blessed by my Father and you will inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
The Lord will say: “Why do you look back, Lucas, my brother?”
And Lucas will answer: “I look back because I think about what remains to be done, I consider the unfinished that awaits to be completed, the promises that I should have honored, the mission that I should have fulfilled. Here, you see: life is too short. Too many waiting in suspense! That’s why I look back!”
And the Lord will say: “Don’t look back, Lucas, my brother. Your life was too short, as was my life. However, from the top of the cross it is possible to proclaim, ‘Everything is accomplished!’, Just as in the hard moment, the most precious gift can be offered, without time wasting it away. So, don’t look back, Lucas, my brother. Enter the life of God: you will be young forever!”
And the Lord will ask again: “Why are you hurt Lucas, my brother?”
And Lucas will answer: “It hurts me because that is how people treat those who love them and those who serve them: they give me bad for good and hate in exchange for love. It hurts me because there are countries where hope is forbidden, where the commitment to fix the world goes bankrupt, where people who matter continue to bargain their businesses and people who do not matter continue to hurt and be hurt. That’s why I feel hurt, because that’s what the evildoers are like: always safe, hoarding wealth and plotting traps against the just, and there is no one to do justice!”
And the Lord will say: “Don’t say that, Lucas, my brother. Look at my wounds, I received them from my brothers; and look at my heart: blood and water flow from my side; if the grain of wheat that falls on the ground does not die, it remains alone; if it dies, it bears much fruit. I have sown in history a seed of love that bears fruits of love, and whoever remains in love remains in me and I on them. People who count and amass wealth are also destined to die and for them judgment will be pronounced: far, far from me, cursed, in eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. But the gentle will inherit the earth, the righteous will be blessed and blessed will be their offspring.”
And the Lord will say again: “Why are you crying Lucas, my brother?”
And Lucas will answer: “I cry because the people I love cry; I cry because there are young lives that need hugs and kisses, pampering, and true and strong words and I will not be there to dry their tears and share their joys. I cry because after the clamor, the silence will descend; after the notoriety, the oblivion will come: who will take care of those young lives that I will not see advance in life?”
And the Lord will say: “Don’t say that, Lucas, my brother. I will send the Comforting Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and strength, the Spirit of truth and love, and those who are dear to you will unite in bonds of invincible affection, no one will be abandoned and I myself will wipe all tears from their eyes – ties of blood, the bonds of affection, the bonds of friendship will be more intense and truer, freer and happier. Your departure will not become an absence, your presence in the Father’s joy will not be a distance! Don’t cry anymore, Lucas, my brother!”