Pope’s homily at Mass on World Day of Migrants and Refugees

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Official English-language translation of Pope Francis’ homily at Holy Mass on Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

This year I wanted to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a Mass that invites and welcomes you especially who are migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Some of you have recently arrived in Italy, others are long-time residents and work here, and still others make up the so-called “second-generation”.

For everyone in this assembly, the Word of God has resonated and today invites us to deepen the special call that the Lord addresses to each one of us. As he did with Samuel (cf 1 Sm 3:3b-10,19), he calls us by name and asks us to honour the fact that each of us has been created a unique and unrepeatable being, each different from the others and each with a singular role in the history of the world. In the Gospel (cf Jn 1:35-42), the two disciples of John ask Jesus, “Where do you live?” (v. 38), implying that the reply to this question would determine their judgment upon the master from Nazareth. The response of Jesus, “Come and see!” (v. 39) opens up to a personal encounter which requires sufficient time to welcome, to know and to acknowledge the other.

In the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees I have written, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Mt 25:35,43).” And for the stranger, the migrant, the refugee, the asylum seeker and the displaced person, every door in a new land is also an opportunity encounter Jesus. His invitation “Come and see!” is addressed today to all of us, to local communities and to new arrivals. It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her. It is an invitation which offers the opportunity to draw near to the other and see where and how he or she lives. In today’s world, for new arrivals to welcome, to know and to acknowledge means to know and respect the laws, the culture and the traditions of the countries that take them in. It even includes understanding their fears and apprehensions for the future. For local communities to welcome, to know and to acknowledge newcomers means to open themselves without prejudices to their rich diversity, to understand the hopes and potential of the newly arrived as well as their fears and vulnerabilities.

True encounter with the other does not end with welcome, but involves us all in the three further actions which I spelled out in the Message for this Day: to protect, to promote and to integrate. In the true encounter with the neighbour, are we capable of recognizing Jesus Christ who is asking to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated? As the Gospel parable of the final judgment teaches us: the Lord was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, a stranger and in prison — by some he was helped and by others not (cf Mt 25:31-46). This true encounter with Christ is source of salvation, a salvation which should be announced and brought to all, as the apostle Andrew shows us. After revealing to his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41), Andrew brings him to Jesus so that Simon can have the same experience of encounter.
It is not easy to enter into another culture, to put oneself in the shoes of people so different from us, to understand their thoughts and their experiences. As a result we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves. Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order, will ‘steal’ something they have long laboured to build up. And the newly arrived also have fears: they are afraid of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure. These fears are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view. Having doubts and fears is not a sin. The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection. The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbour, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord.
From this encounter with Jesus present in the poor, the rejected, the refugee, the asylum seeker, flows our prayer of today. It is a reciprocal prayer: migrants and refugees pray for local communities, and local communities pray for the newly arrived and for migrants who have been here longer. To the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy we entrust the hopes of all the world’s migrants and refugees and the aspirations of the communities which welcome them. In this way, responding to the supreme commandment of charity and love of neighbour, may we all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves.

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twelve

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I am  at a loss here with this Gospel message. “He appoints twelve.” Certainly I understand the Apostles, and the priests that come from them. Is that all though, is it just about those anointed? Yes, yes, yes. I understand their role, and their authority. They are in a sense certified messenger. Scrutinized, educated, and certified. They are professionals. Is that all? Is that all there s to the twelve. My mind drifts towards the dirty dozen, it is a movie abut convicted prisoners who are assigned a noble cause. But is that all. A dozen messengers. What about those tribes of Israel, a dozen. They are the people of the covenant.  In appointing twelve, is that a representative of each tribe. Could it be the tribe itself? A royal priesthood, or a priesthood from the royal then ordained. Who is appointed to preach the gospel, and who is ordained to transmit the message. To transmit is to transcribe and that id official. Saint Francis; preach and if you have to use words. A ramble? For certain. I snicker because I understand the message, for some and for all. Different duties to serve the same purpose, I don’t step on toes.Mk 3:13-19

revisiting old wineskins

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To continue with the wedding of the third Epiphany, Jesus enters into a confrontation with the Pharisees regarding His Apostles and disciples noncompliance with Judaic law. In every marriage, it is not just the couple that enters into a union, it also is the couples “families.” The dialogue that is exchanged is not uncommon between in-laws. The exchange is proof of a wedding taking place, and what would a wedding be without family arguments?

Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.

Mk 2:18-22

The rest of this post was composed from a similar gospel, though from a different evangelist. At the time I hesitated to post this because it played large in the news.

September 4, 2015

Todays readings were all about old versus new; old cloth and new cloth, old and new wine, old and new wineskins, old and new testaments. Jesus declares His preaching’s as new, and not something grafted to, or amended onto older traditions. His is “a new creation.”

In reading these passages there is the message about how Jesus’s message relates to the religion of tradition, in reading these passages today there is some contemplation on the worlds contrasts and conflicts and comparisons. The news has been full of these. One contrast going on has been the enormous migration from the conflicts of the Mideast to the shores of Europe. It is the travel from an old land to new, and from conflict hopefully to peace. The movement from one culture to another. With this old wine poured into new wineskins, or new fabric attached to old; I cant help but wonder what will happen. It is not difficult to see the tension as Europe seeks to confront a crisis heaped upon them.

Lk 5:33-39

The pressures being placed on them are enormous, and heated disagreements on how to handle the crisis are bound to erupt. I hope though that those citizens of Europe remember their Christian heritage, and the good news of healing. I hope they are able to bring healing and comfort to a migrating people torn by war and violence. The contrasts and dissimilarities between East and West are historically legendary, hopefully this time around those differences will be lessened and they will come together in peace. Hopefully the pain and suffering will transform into something good, where old hostilities are be replaced with a new compassion and understanding.

a wedding at canna

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From baptism to a wedding, here is that water again. Interesting thing abut this gospel story is that the story is about a wedding that took place in Canna over two thousand years ago. It is arguably the most famous weddings in recorded history, yet the couple who are entering into this wedding are not mentioned. Neither the bride, the groom are described. What is known is that Jesus turns water into wine at His mothers request, and He does so after He tells His Mother this is not His mission. It is Jesus first miracle, and it is the third Epiphany. Why is this story told?

I would think the first place to start is with water and wine. The water we met at the Baptism of the Lord, and the jugs are mentioned to be used for a ceremonial cleaning; a ritual washing which is a baptism of sorts. It is an ancient Jewish ritual of purification before eating, and I would think that links it with Johns baptism of repentance. If you think back to the Baptism of Jesus, He purified water through His baptism. Water in the bible often is associated with death, from the flood of Noah to the crossing of the Red Sea. IN Christian baptism we die to sin and rise in Christ. That gives a synopsis of water, but now what about the wine?

No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

Wine then is much like wine today. It is celebratory. It is a joyous drink that often represents joyous relationships between God and His people. It is from the fruit of the vine, a bountiful harvest. It is Joy. Often when this story is interpreted, one point made is that when the wedding ran out of wine, it was one that lacked joyful celebration. It turned into drudgery. Some associate that as social commentary on temple leadership of the day. That might be true, but is that the entire meaning of the story? One detail of the story is that when Jesus told the waiters to fill the jugs, they filled them to the brim . When Mary told them to do whatever He tells you, they were obedient. Let’s highlight this statement. Lets emphasize the devotion to Mary. It is important!

They filled them to the brim, they provided an abundance of water. That detail comes to life when the water is turned into wine. Wine overflowing from a container is symbolic of Gods Abundant goodness. At Sabbath the Kiddush cup is filled to the brim, a plate is placed under the cup to catch the overflow. The headwater tastes the wine , as the person leading Shabbat does so too. This wine takes on new meaning, it begins to describe the relationship between the people of the covenant and God. That relationship is often described as a marriage between God and man. Might the reason be that the couple is unnamed because it is the beginning of a marriage between Creator and creation, between God and man? I think of that water in the river Jordan, is that where it began its transformation? That is where they begin the procession. As Jesus tells Mary this is not His hour. There is more to follow and that path is well described in the wedding vows that are so familiar.  Richer, poorer, sickness, health. The reminder is that the journey is a celebration, from its Nativity to the Passion and through its Easter and everything in between.

 

Thursday of the second week in ordinary time

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When the gospel Mk 3:7-12 says that a large number of people followed Jesus as he withdrew to the sea, that is a historical fact. History tells that Jesus did attract a large number of followers, and in that time and place drawing that much attention was dangerous. That danger is the reason why Jesus did not want it known he was “the Son of God.” Also this particular reading comes right after Jesus encounters with the Pharisees on the Sabbath and at the synagogue. The crowds he did not leave behind, he did leave behind much of that Pharisee culture and tradition. Forging a new covenant does require a break from the traditions of the past. Attention also might be directed towards the regions his followers are coming from. Judea is Jewish. Galilee is a mixture of Jew and Hellenic Gentiles,Tyre was never part of Jewish tradition and they had a prosperous couture of their own.His audience extends beyond Jerusalem and the members of the old covenant.This new audience brings both their own illnesses, and I have to think their own virtues. Why is that important? I think the varied cultures and people Jesus speaks too emphasizes that his message is not directed at Jerusalem, but it is directed at mankind. His message is both challenged by all people, and is relevant to all. The first reading  Heb 7:25—8:6 opens with “Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him,since he lives forever to make intercession for them.” It says he offers salvation to those  who approach Him. He does not only save those of a particular denomination, or social status, or those deemed worthy of salvation. Jesus’s message is for all mankind.