6 June 2018 | Homily


Altar of the Cathedra, in Saint Peter’s Basilica

“You who trample upon the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land… Behold
the days are coming… when I will send a famine on the land… a thirst for hearing the
words of the Lord” (Amos 8:4.11).
Today this warning of the prophet Amos is remarkably timely. How many of the poor
are trampled on in our day! How many of the poor are being brought to ruin! All are
the victims of that culture of waste that has been denounced time and time again.
Among them, I cannot fail to include the migrants and refugees who continue to
knock at the door of nations that enjoy greater prosperity.
Five years ago, during my visit to Lampedusa, recalling the victims lost at sea, I
repeated that timeless appeal to human responsibility: “‘Where is your brother? His
blood cries out to me’, says the Lord. This is not a question directed to others; it is a
question directed to me, to you, to each of us (Homily, 8 July 2013). Sadly, the
response to this appeal, even if at times generous, has not been enough, and we
continue to grieve thousands of deaths.
Today’s Gospel acclamation contains Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all who labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). The Lord promises
refreshment and freedom to all the oppressed of our world, but he needs us to fulfil
his promise. He needs our eyes to see the needs of our brothers and sisters. He needs
our hands to offer them help. He needs our voice to protest the injustices committed
thanks to the silence, often complicit, of so many. I should really speak of many
silences: the silence of common sense; the silence that thinks, “it’s always been done
this way”; the silence of “us” as opposed to “you”. Above all, the Lord needs our
hearts to show his merciful love towards the least, the outcast, the abandoned, the
In the Gospel we heard, Matthew tells us of the most important day in his life, the
day Jesus called him. The Evangelist clearly records the Lord’s rebuke to the
Pharisees, so easily given to insidious murmuring: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I
desire mercy, and not sacrifice’” (9:13). It is a finger pointed at the sterile hypocrisy
of those who do not want to “dirty the hands”, like the priest or the Levite in the
parable of the Good Samaritan. This is a temptation powerfully present in our own
day. It takes the form of closing our hearts to those who have the right, just as we
do, to security and dignified living conditions. It builds walls, real or virtual, rather
than bridges.
Before the challenges of contemporary movements of migration, the only reasonable
response is one of solidarity and mercy. A response less concerned with calculations,
than with the need for an equitable distribution of responsibilities, an honest and
sincere assessment of the alternatives and a prudent management. A just policy is
one at the service of the person, of every person involved; a policy that provides for
solutions that can ensure security, respect for the rights and dignity of all; a policy
concerned for the good of one’s own country, while taking into account that of others
in an ever more interconnected world. It is to this world that the young look.
The Psalmist has shown us the right attitude to adopt in conscience before God: “I
have chosen the way of faithfulness, I set your ordinances before me” (Ps 119,30).
A commitment to faithfulness and right judgement that all of us hope to pursue
together with government leaders in our world and all people of good will. For this
reason, we are following closely the efforts of the international community to respond
to the challenges posed by today’s movements of migration by wisely combining
solidarity and subsidiarity, and by identifying both resources and responsibilities.
I would like to close with a few words in Spanish, directed particularly to the faithful
who have come from Spain.
I wanted to celebrate the fifth anniversary of my visit to Lampedusa with you, who
represent rescuers and those rescued on the Mediterranean Sea. I thank the rescuers
for embodying in our day the parable of the Good Samaritan, who stopped to save
the life of the poor man beaten by bandits. He didn’t ask where he was from, his
reasons for travelling or his documents… he simply decided to care for him and save
his life. To those rescued I reiterate my solidarity and encouragement, since I am
well aware of the tragic circumstances that you are fleeing. I ask you to keep being
witnesses of hope in a world increasingly concerned about the present, with little
vision for the future and averse to sharing. With respect for the culture and laws of
the country that receives you, may you work out together the path of integration.
I ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and to stir our hearts to overcome all fear
and anxiety, and to make us docile instruments of the Father’s merciful love, ready
to offer our lives for our brothers and sisters, as the Lord Jesus did for each of us.