While visiting PASADA, the Catholic Church’s centre
for people with AIDS in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania I entered the big hall for the
monthly support group meeting of people who are HIV Positive. Small groups of 20
men and women sat in circles quietly sharing their lives. I was deeply touched.
I felt it was a sacred moment. I asked myself: How many of these people will I
see the next time I come here?
I began to reflect… Each age has its own "terrible form of
dying." In the First Century it was crucifixion. In the 14th Century it was the
Black Death (bubonic plague). Today it is AIDS. If Jesus chose the most
ignominious form of death in his time to redeem us, would he choose to die from
AIDS today? In Dar es Salaam we say: "Let’s admit it. We are afraid to talk
about AIDS." And meeting a person who is HIV Positive! That is even worse. How
much easier to say: "That is someone else’s problem. We have doctors and
institutions to take care of ‘those’ AIDS patients."
Mother Teresa tells each of us bluntly: "Today people with
AIDS are the most unwanted and unloved brothers and sisters of Jesus. So let us
give them our tender love and care and a beautiful smile." How about me or you?
Are we ready to give at least a smile to one in such need?