Vatican City, Feb 15, 2019 / 10:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Friday that people need to overcome their fear of migrants and refugees, and look for the face of Christ in each immigrant arriving in their countries.
“The Lord speaks to us today and asks us to let Him free us from our fears,” Pope Francis said in a homily Feb. 15 at the Fraterna Domus di Sacrofano, a Catholic retreat center north of Rome.
In fear, we tend to become closed off, Pope Francis explained. “This withdrawal into ourselves, a sign of defeat, increases our fear of ‘others,’ the unknown, the marginalized, the strangers.”
“It is not easy to enter the culture of others, put yourself in the shoes of people so different from us, understand their thoughts and experiences. And so often we give up the meeting with the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves,” he continued.
“Faced with the wickedness and ugliness of our time, we … are tempted to abandon our dream of freedom. We feel legitimate fear in front of situations that seem to us with no way out. And the human words of a leader or prophet are not enough to reassure us,” he said.
However, when fear holds one back from encountering the stranger, it is a missed opportunity to practice charity, the pope explained.
“The meeting with the other, then, is also an encounter with Christ. He told us himself. It is He who knocks on our door hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and imprisoned, asking to be met and assisted,” he said.
“It is really Him, even if our eyes [struggle] to recognize Him: with broken clothes, with dirty feet, with a deformed face, with a wounded body, unable to speak our language,” Pope Francis added.
Pope Francis celebrated the opening Mass for a Feb. 15-17 gathering called, “Freedom from Fear,” a meeting of people and organizations dedicated to welcoming migrants. The event was organized by the Italian bishops conference and Caritas Italiana.
In the Mass, Pope Francis prayed that all pastors “know how to train all the baptized to welcome to migrants and refugees.”
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