Homily of Fr. General at the Mass on Friday, April 5, in Homs
(with the Jesuits present in Syria)
As we gather today as Jesuits, around the Eucharist, in this place where Frans lived for so many years and where he offered his life, we celebrate both his death and our faith that he is truly alive.
In this Eucharist, we primarily remember the life of Frans. Here in Homs, he went around, for 30 years (and nearly 50 in Syria) “doing good”. So many people, perhaps thousands, have benefited from his guidance, his gifts as a psychoanalyst, his care to the little ones, the handicapped and the marginalized. We recall his ability to relieve those who were weak or tired, and his power to transmit hope.
We gather in the Eucharist to break and share bread. For the last two years of his life, while he was under siege in this neighbourhood, Frans’ first concern was to ensure that bread would be shared to feed the few who had stayed behind. He literally brought them the “bread of life”. He has often done that at the expense of his own livelihood. He could have fled from this hell on earth so many times. However, he freely and voluntarily chose to show solidarity with each of these little ones, whom he considered to be his brothers and sisters, not wanting to abandon any of them.
Finally, the Eucharist is for us, as disciples and companions of Jesus, essentially a celebration. Frans lived this dimension of celebration to the very end, even during the worst moments of the war. He also invited Muslims families, who were living in this house with him, to celebrate their faith and hope. He recognized, in the small gestures of solidarity of daily life, the possibility of overcoming despair and the promise they held for renewal. He lived the last two years of his life in an Easter context, a passing from division to reconciliation, from adversity to fraternity, from death to life.
The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s life, a sharing of his body and a celebration of his Passover. This is surprisingly actualized in his disciples who, like Frans van der Lugt, embodied this faith so well.