[…] Faced with the wickedness and ugliness of our time, we too, like the people of
Israel, are tempted to abandon our dream of freedom. We feel legitimate fear in the
face of situations that seem to us without a way out. And the human words of a
condottiere or prophet are not enough to reassure us, when we fail to feel the
presence of God and are not able to abandon ourselves to his providence. Thus, we
close ourselves in ourselves, in our fragile human certainties, in the circle of loved
ones, in our reassuring routine. And in the end we give up the journey to the promised
land to return to the slavery of Egypt.
This turning in on oneself, a sign of defeat, increases our fear of the “others”, the
unknown, the marginalized, the foreigners – who are also the privileged of the Lord,
as we read in Matthew 25. And this is particularly noticeable today, faced with the
arrival of migrants and refugees who knock on our door in search of protection,
security and a better future. True, fear is legitimate, also because preparation for this
meeting is missing. I said it last year, on the occasion of the World Day of Migrants
and Refugees: «It is not easy to enter the culture of others, put oneself in the shoes
of people so different from us, understand their thoughts and experiences. And so,
often, we renounce the encounter with the other and raise barriers to defend
ourselves ». Giving up a meeting is not human.
We are called instead to overcome the fear to open ourselves to the meeting. And to
do this, rational justifications and statistical calculations are not enough. Moses tells
the people in front of the Red Sea, with a fierce enemy who presses him on his back:
“Do not be afraid”, because the Lord does not abandon his people, but acts
mysteriously in history to realize his plan of salvation. Moses speaks so simply
because he trusts God.
The encounter with the other, then, is also an encounter with Christ. He told us
himself. He is the one who knocks on our door, hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick,
in prison, asking to be met and assisted. And if we still have some doubts, here is his
clear word: “Truly I say to you, all you have done to one of these my little brothers,
you did it to me” (Mt 25,40).
The encouragement of the Master to his disciples can also be understood in this
sense: “Courage, it is I, do not be afraid” (Mt 14:27). It is really Him, even if our
eyes find it hard to recognize Him: with broken clothes, with dirty feet, with a
deformed face, a wounded body, unable to speak our language … We too, like Peter,
might be tempted to put Jesus to the test and ask him for a sign. And maybe, after
a few hesitant steps towards Him, to remain victims of our fears again. But the Lord
does not abandon us! Even if we are men and women “of little faith”, Christ continues
to extend his hand to save us and allow the encounter with him, an encounter that
saves us and gives us back the joy of being his disciples.
If this is a valid key to understanding our history today, then we should begin to
thank those who give us the opportunity for this meeting, that is, the “others” who
knock on our doors, offering us the opportunity to overcome our fears to meet ,
welcome and assist Jesus in person.
And those who have had the strength to let themselves be freed from fear, those
who have experienced the joy of this meeting are called today to announce it on the
roofs, openly, to help others do the same, preparing themselves for the encounter
with Christ and his salvation.
Brothers and sisters, this is a grace that carries with it a mission, the fruit of complete
entrustment to the Lord, which is for us the only true certainty. For this reason, as
individuals and as a community, we are called to make our own the prayer of the
redeemed people: “My strength and my song is the Lord, he was my salvation”
(Exodus 15: 2).