Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
You are all celebrating, aren’t you? I thank Fr Chiarello for his words of greeting and
presentation. I am pleased to be able to spend some time with you, who
participated yesterday in the Eucharistic celebration and in the Canonization of
Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini. You are a very diverse group — this is good! There
are missionaries, missionary sisters, secular missionaries and lay Scalabrinians;
there are faithful from the dioceses of Como and Piacenza; and then there are
migrants from many countries: a good mix, and this is good. In this way, you
represent well the breadth of the work of Bishop Scalabrini, the openness of his
heart, for which, so to speak, one diocese was not enough.
His apostolate in support of Italian emigrants was of great relevance. In that time,
thousands left for the Americas. Bishop Scalabrini viewed them with the gaze of
Christ, of which the Gospel speaks; for example, Matthew writes: “When he saw the
crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36). And he took care, with great charity and
pastoral intelligence, to guarantee them adequate material and spiritual assistance.
Today, too, migration constitutes a very important challenge. It highlights the
urgent need to put fraternity before rejection, solidarity before indifference. Today,
every baptized person is called upon to reflect God’s gaze towards migrant and
refugee brothers and sisters — there are many of them — to let his gaze broaden
our own gaze, thanks to the encounter with humanity on the move, through
tangible closeness, following the example of Bishop Scalabrini.
We are called today to live out and spread the culture of encounter, an encounter
on an equal footing between migrants and the people of the host country. It is an
enriching experience, inasmuch as it reveals the beauty of diversity. And it is also
fruitful, because the faith, hope and tenacity of migrants can be an example and a
spur for those who want to commit themselves to building a world of peace and
well-being for all. And for it to be for everyone, as you well know, we must start
from the last: if we don’t start out from the last, it isn’t for everyone. As in
mountain hikes: if the ones in front run, the group breaks up, and the first ones
after a while burst out; if instead you keep pace with the last ones, you all go
together. This is a rule of wisdom. When we walk, when we go on a pilgrimage, we
always need to walk at the pace of the least.
To make fraternity and social friendship grow, we are all called upon to be creative,
to think “outside the box”. We are required to open up new spaces where art, music
and being together become tools for intercultural dynamics, where the richness of
the encounter with diversity can be savoured.
Therefore, I urge you, Scalabrinian missionaries, to always let yourselves be
inspired by your founder Saint, father of migrants, of all migrants. May his charism
renew in you the joy of being with migrants, of being at their service, and of doing
so with faith, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in the conviction that in each one of them
we encounter the Lord Jesus. And this will help you have the style of generous
giving, of sparing no physical and economic resources to support migrants in an
integral way; and it will also help you to work in communion of purpose, as a
family, united in diversity.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the holiness of John Baptist Scalabrini “infect” us
with the desire to be holy, each one in an original, unique way, as God’s infinite
imagination has made us and wants us to be. And may his intercession give us the
joy, and give us the hope to walk together towards the new Jerusalem, which is a
symphony of faces and peoples, towards the kingdom of justice, fraternity and
Thank you for coming to share your celebration! From my heart I bless you and
your travelling companions there where you live. And please, do not forget to pray
for me. Thank you!