Pope Francis has called for the protection of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who have been streaming across the Mexican border into the United States. The Pope said in a message to a colloquium on migration and development taking place in Mexico that the humanitarian emergency requires "as a first urgent measure" that these children be "welcomed and protected." But he stressed these measures will not be sufficient "unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin." US authorities have detained some 57,000 unaccompanied minors since October, twice the number from the same period a year ago. Mexican authorities have picked up 8,000 child migrants in the first five months of the year, and more than half of them were traveling by themselves. The immigrant children have been fleeing strife in Central America, while others are thought to be motivated by a desire to reunite with family in the US. The Pope said the challenge "demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted." He pointed out that migration is still widely seen as an emergency, but has actually now become "a hallmark of our society and a challenge." Francis repeated that attitudes towards migrants must change, moving away from "defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world". Addressing the Colloquium, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin stated: "Whether they are traveling because of poverty, or violence, or with the hope of reuniting with relatives on the other side of the border, it is urgent to protect them and help them because their vulnerability is greater and they are defenseless against any abuse or misfortune”.
My friend, Fr Joseph Girzone writes a daily "posting" for his Joshua Ministry's webpage. I particularly enjoyed this one: When it comes to the practice of our religion, it makes all the difference in the world whether our focus and center of interest is in things of the Church, whether it be the rituals, or particular culture of a national church, or the present day issues being discussed and uppermost in the leadership of the Church, or whether our focus and the center of our life is on Jesus. From my experience, Church is what people identify as their religion. What is important to the Church and the religious leaders is what becomes the substance of people’s involvement in their religion. To a certain extent that is good, but it can also become the heart of our worship, and religious practices involving Jesus, like Mass, and Eucharist, and the Sacraments, and a healthy understanding of the sacredness of the priesthood, and its necessity to make Jesus present in the Church can easily fade into mere pious devotion and respect, but not the center of our Christian life. The Church and its trappings have become the heart of people’s religious focus. That is not healthy; it is what Jesus found so reprehensible in the scribes and Pharisees. They loved their religion, but had no love of God in their hearts or love and compassion for hurting people. Yet, deep down, people crave for what Jesus has to give. I found this out as soon as “Joshua” spread around the country and around the world, and I got requests from all over the world to come and talk about Jesus, and though I spoke for almost two hours, the audience sat motionless and eerily silent without coughing or sneezing for the whole time. It was the strangest phenomenon I had ever experienced, and it was not that I was a great speaker, but the people were so hungry to hear about a Jesus who was real to them, they did not want to miss a word. One day in North Palm Beach, Florida, I was asked to continue speaking and it lasted for almost seven hours. I don’t even know how I could have spoken about Jesus for seven hours. People’s hunger for Jesus is so intense, they could not have enough, and told me it was their only chance to hear about Jesus as none of their priests or ministers ever talk about Jesus in church. Everything is about church and about what is important to the Church. What I learned from all these experiences is that people are not drifting away from God; they hunger for a relationship with God, and an intimacy with Jesus, and once we start focusing on Jesus and start teaching contemplative prayer, and the practice of the Presence of Jesus in our daily lives, a whole new and exciting renewal of life will begin to flourish in our churches again.
Brothers and Sisters, In this Sunday's Gospel we find Jesus' invitation: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28). He has before him the people he meets every day on the streets of Galilee, many simple people, the poor, the sick, sinners, the marginalized ... These people always run after him to listen to his word - a word that gives hope! - and also just to touch the hem of his garment. Jesus himself looked for these harassed and helpless crowds, who were like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mt 9:35-36), to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal many in body and in spirit. Now he calls them all to himself: "Come unto me," and promises them relief and solace. This invitation of Jesus extends to the present day, reaching many brothers and sisters weighed down by poor living conditions, difficult life situations and, sometimes, with no valid points of reference. In the poorest countries, but also in the suburbs of the richest countries, there are many people harassed and helpless under the unbearable weight of abandonment and indifference. On the margins of society there are many men and women tested by poverty, but also a life of dissatisfaction and frustration. Many are forced to emigrate from their homeland, risking their own lives. Many more, every day, carry the weight of an economic system that exploits man, imposes an unbearable "yoke", and that the privileged few don’t want to lead. To each of these sons of the Father who is in heaven, Jesus says, "Come unto me, all of you." But he also says this to those who possess everything – but their hearts are empty, empty, their hearts are empty without God. Jesus also says to them, “Come unto me.” The invitation of Jesus is for everyone, but in a special way for these who suffer the most. Jesus promises to give rest to all, but there is also an invitation, which is like a commandment: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart" (Mt 11:29). The "yoke" of the Lord consists of the weighty duty of brotherly love. Once the solace and comfort of Christ is received, we are called in turn to become solace and comfort for our brothers, with a meek and humble attitude, in imitation of the Master. This meekness and humility of heart helps us not only to take the weight of the other, but also to not impose upon them our own personal views, our judgments and our criticism. We invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her mantle that welcomes all harassed and helpless people, so that through an enlightened faith, witnessed in life, we can be of relief to those who need help, tenderness and hope.
This is a modest effort at a "blog" my attempt to offer some brief reflections each day that come from various sources that I find interesting - primarily the daily reflections of Pope Francis as found on Zenit and Rome Reports. Fr. John