City (AsiaNews) - "Jesus
was a refugee. He had to flee to save his life. He
was a refugee," said Pope Francis in his appeal ahead of next
Friday's World Refugee Day, a day dedicated "to those who are forced to leave their homeland to flee conflict and persecution."
number of these brother refugees is growing and, in these
past few days, thousands more
have been forced to leave their
homes in order to save their life. Millions of families, millions of them,
refugees from many countries and different faiths, experience in their stories tragedies and wounds that will not likely be healed. Let us be their neighbours, share their fears and uncertainty about
the future, and take concrete steps to reduce their
suffering. May the Lord support the
people and institutions that work with generosity and hospitality
to provide refugees with shelter and dignity,
and give them
reasons to hope."
The pope made
his appeal at the end of the general audience in which he began
a series of catechesis dedicated to the Church, "which is all
of us". As an institution, it is not "an end in itself or a
private association, nor a NGO," or limited "to priests, bishops, or the Vatican."
is "a much broader reality, which
is open to all humanity." It was "not born in a lab" suddenly. "It was founded by Jesus but
it is a people with a long
history and a long [period pf] preparation before Christ himself" came; it is the story
of a people "on the move" in which "Jesus was born".
congratulated the 40,000 people gathered
in in St Peter's Square to hear him for braving the
weather. "You were good [to come] in such a
weather, not knowing whether it would pour or not. Let us hope to reach the end
of the audience without it."
Speaking about the Church, he said that talking about it was "a bit like a child who talks about his
own mother, his own family. To talk
about the Church is to talk about our mother, our
family. Indeed, as an institution, the
Church is not an end in itself, or a private organisation,
nor NGO, nor should
it be seen only as the clergy or the Vatican.
bishops, and the Vatican "are
parts of the Church, which is all of us,
all [part] of the mother's family. The Church
is a much broader reality,
which is open to all humanity. It was not born in a lab. The Church was not born in a lab; it was not born all of a sudden. It was founded by Jesus but
it is a people with a long
history and a long [period pf] preparation before Christ himself" came.
"prehistory" begins with the
Book of Genesis, when God chose Abraham and
asked him to leave his homeland to
go to another land that He would reveal.
vocation, God does
not call Abraham alone, as an individual, but from
the start involves his family,
his kin and all those who are in the service of his
first important fact is this. Starting with Abraham, God gave birth a people to bring his
blessing to all the families of the earth. Jesus
was born amid this nation. God created this people,
this story, the Church on the
move. Jesus was born here, in this
second element is that "Abraham
did not gather a people around himself. God
gave life to this people." Typically, "man turned to the gods, trying to bridge the gap, calling for
support and protection. People prayed
to the gods, and the gods . . . But, now something
unprecedented occurred. God
the initiative." This
is "the beginning of the Church and Jesus was born amid this nation."
Father, how can this be? God speaking to
us?' Yes! 'Can we talk to God?' Yes! 'Can we can have a conversation with God?' Yes! It is called prayer, which God did from
people "heard God's call and started their journey even though they did
not know exactly
who this God was and where he wanted to
Abraham "did not have a book of theology to study what God
was. He had trust, trust in love. God made him feel love and he trusted him.
This did not mean that these people
were always convinced and faithful. . . . Indeed, from the
beginning there was resistance, turning
inward and towards self-interest and the temptation of
bargaining with God and sort things out in their own way. These betrayals and sins mark the journey of the people throughout the history of salvation, which
is the story of God's faithfulness
and the people's unfaithfulness."
Yet, God "does not tire. God is patient, has
a lot of patience, and over time continues to educate and
train his people, like a father does
with his son."
This is the same attitude "he
has with the Church. In fact, we too, even when we are resolved to follow the Lord
Jesus, experience every day the selfishness
and hardness of our hearts.
However, when we acknowledge that we are
sinners, God fills us with his mercy and love. He forgives
us; he always forgive us."
This way we grow "as the people of God, as the Church," and realise that what counts "is
not our skills, nor our merits" but "the
daily experience of how much the Lord loves and cares for us.
This makes us feel that we are truly his, in his
hands, making us grow in communion
with Him and with one another. Being
Church means feeling that we are in God's
hands, who is father and loves
us, embraces us, waits for us, makes us feel his tenderness. And this is
God's plan. When he called Abraham, God
was thinking about this: create a people
blessed by his love who can bring his blessing to
all the nations of the earth. This
project has not changed; it is always underway. It found its fulfilment in Christ and even today, God continues to achieve it through the Church. Let us then ask for the grace of remaining faithful to the Sequela
Christi, listening to His Word,
ready to leave every day, like Abraham, towards the land of God and man, our
true homeland, so as to become a blessing, a sign of God's love
for all of his children."
synonym, one name I like for us Christians is 'men and women, people who bless',"
the pope said in concluding. "Through their lives, Christians must always bless, bless God
and bless all of us as well. We Christians are people who
bless, who know how to bless. This
is [a] beautiful vocation!"