SHOW OPENNESS AND SOLIDARITY TO MIGRANTS, REFUGEES
At today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, and highlighted “two particular corporal works of mercy: welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked,” noting that “Jesus mentions both of these in connection with the Last Judgement. Nowadays, the ‘stranger’ is often the immigrant in our midst.”
“In every age,” said the Pope, “the phenomenon of immigration calls for a response of openness and solidarity. In our own day, the growing influx of refugees fleeing war, famine and dire poverty is a summons to welcome and care for these brothers and sisters. Like so many committed Christians who have gone before us, such as Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, we need to find generous and creative ways of meeting their immediate needs.
“So too,” he went on to explain, “’clothing the naked’ increasingly means caring for those whose dignity has been stripped from them, and working to ensure that it is upheld and safeguarded. As followers of Christ, may we never close our hearts to those in need. For by openness to others, our lives are enriched, our societies enjoy peace and all people can live in a way befitting their God-given dignity.”
Vatican Radio reported that Francis, setting aside his prepared text, told the story of a lady who was approached by a refugee asking directions for the Holy Door. The man, the Pope said, was dirty and barefoot but wanted to go to St. Peter’s Basilica to cross the holy threshold. The woman took stock of his bare feet and called a taxi, but the taxi driver initially didn’t want him on board because he was ‘smelly’. The taxi driver ended up taking the woman and the man who, during the drive, told his story of pain, war, hunger and migration.
On reaching destination, said the Pope, the taxi driver, the same man who initially didn’t want the refugee to board his taxi because he was ‘smelly’, refused to accept payment for his service from the woman because he said: “It is I who should pay you because thanks to you I have listened to a story that has changed my heart.”
The Pope continued, saying that the woman was well aware of the pain of a migrant because she had Armenian blood and knew the suffering of her people. “When we do something like that initially there is some discomfort – ‘a smell’ – but at the end, a story like this brings fragrance to our soul, and changes us. Think about this story and think what you can do for refugees”
This is on the front door of my home. For decades it was on a pillar just inside the front door of my Mom and Dad’s home in California.
At the end of the weekly general audience, the Holy Father reminded the faithful that October, as we near its end, is always the month dedicated to the Rosary, and he invited believers to recite this Marian prayer.
Francis explained that the Rosary is “a synthesis of Divine Mercy,” saying, “With Mary, in the mysteries of the Rosary we contemplate the life of Jesus which pours forth the mercy of the Father. Let us rejoice in His love and forgiveness, let us recognize it in foreigners and in those who are needy, let us live His Gospel every day.”
In the customary weekly greetings to young people, the sick and newlyweds, Pope Francis said: “May this simple Marian prayer show you, young people, the way to give life to God’s will in your lives; dear sick people, love this prayer because it brings consolation for the mind and the heart; and dear newly wedded spouses, may it represent a privileged moment of spiritual intimacy within your new family”
On October 7, feast of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, Francis tweeted: “The Rosary is the prayer that always accompanies my life: it is also the prayer of simple people and saints…it is the prayer of my heart.”