ConAltriOcchi blog – 以不同的眼光看世界-博客

"C'è un solo modo di vedere le cose finché qualcuno non ci mostra come guardare con altri occhi" – "There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes" (Picasso) – "人观察事物的方式只有一种,除非有人让我们学会怎样以不同的眼光看世界" (毕加索)


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Giving voice to the voiceless. The World Day of Migrants and Refugees

The Church celebrates Sunday, January 15th, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. This year, Pope Francis has chosen as its theme: “Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless.” This day has more than one hundred years and was established in 1914 by Pope Benedict XV.

As we all know, the issue of migrants has become a global emergency. According to data reported by the Foundation ISMU, there are over 181 thousand arrivals via the sea recorded in 2016 in Italy – an increase by 18% compared to the previous year. Of them, 25 thousand are children or youngsters, of which 14% unaccompanied. With this Day we are called to give voice and above all answers to these human beings, especially women and children, who are forced to flee and to leave everything in the hope of a better life. But what answers can we give? Our simple answer is a matter of common sense: humanity, generosity and competence.

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Credit: Website of Archdiocese of Vancouver

First, we note that a lot of information that we are given or that we report are incorrect. This is often the responsibility of some media, but also our own, as citizens. Indeed, we have a duty to get the right information and not to judge based on the feel and appearance. Especially when it comes to issues so fundamental and sensitive, like those of life and safety of humans fleeing because they risked their lives and their safety.

From the information we receive and what we talk about, it seems that migrants and refugees are a large portion of the Italian population. Again according to information of ISMU Foundation, reported on a recent article by Il Sole 24 Ore, Italians believe that immigrants account for 30% of the population, whereas it is a mere 10%. Similarly, they have a perception of a larger Muslim presence, which is seen by many with some apprehension. Such wrong perceptions certainly do not help to address the issue of migrants, which requires the cooperation and goodwill of all, by international institutions, governments, up to us the citizens.

Then, there is we, the Christians. Especially us, we cannot shirk the duty of charity and we cannot be victims of fear, especially if unmotivated. We also need to overcome a narrow and unhistorical view of reality. The Christian vocation implies to shift from particularism to universality. Christianity is, by its nature, open to the world. It is not by chance that Christianity has adapted to many cultures and social systems, “to the ends of the earth”.

For this reason, let us follow Pope’s invitation and what was said prophetically by St. John Paul II at the beginning of his pontificate. Let us open the political and economic borders of our countries. Let us open vacant houses, parishes and religious institutes. And above all, let us open our hearts to our brothers and sisters who are suffering. We will realize once again the reality of the Gospel: if we join our forces, something beautiful and human will come out, as it happened with the five loaves and two fishes that were shared and distributed equitably, with the help of the Lord, and fed much people.

And let us also be faithful to our history. Already in 1914, Pope Benedict XV, wrote to the Italian diocesan bishops the circular letter “The pain and worries”, which requested to establish an annual day to raise awareness and funds in favor of Italian immigrants. Over the years, this prophetic initiative of the Pope, which was conceived in the context of the First World War, has evolved and has been adjusted to the circumstances, as it is today. Therefore, the pastoral action of the Church regarding the migration issue has a long history and considerable experience, and has always been a fundamental part of her Social Doctrine. We Christians must practice it and implement it in the world, according to the times and the moments.

History teaches that fear is always a bad counselor. Our fears, then, are relative. From the point of view of migrants, our fears are their hope. After all, if our European and Western culture now feels to be more fragile, insecure and threatened, it is also due to the fact that other peoples are finally claiming dignity and food for their children, after centuries of oppression and exploitation. What the Blessed Paul VI had indicated in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio is happening today. And today we understand better that “development is the new name for peace.”

Let us convert toward a soberer lifestyle, exercising concrete gestures of charity, rather than many forms of devotionism to the limit of faith that do not bring benefit to anyone, to our Christian path and our soul. A gesture of charity, a prayer, a different lifestyle can bring something nice, maybe a better life, to someone. Let us add a gesture of charity, some of our time, to a “Hail Mary” that we are required to do as penitence further to Confession. “Love covers a multitude of sins” – says the Scripture. We are a small drop in the ocean, said St. Mother Teresa. Yet now we can all see what the “little pencil in God’s hand” was able to do.

Today on the international stage there is a great opportunity to effectively address the phenomenon of migration. The new Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres led for many years the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR). His experience in this field is a very important factor and certainly weighed on his election. It is also something hopeful. The world, in its most important institution, seems to have finally decided to address decisively and without more referrals the humanitarian crisis linked to the emergency of migrants, which is a daily emergency. Guterres is also a practicing Catholic. We think he can combine his technical and political skills with the Christian humanism.

And let us not forget the work of mercy and prophetic action of our beloved Pope Francis, who decided to lead himself the office dedicated to the migrants of the new Congregation for Integral Human Development.

Let us pray and work as much as we can for our brothers and sisters, let us open our hearts to them, each of us according to our own ability, sensitivity, and skills.


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The king is dead, long live the king!

Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States of America. The new president will swear his oath of office on the Bible; a private ceremony will be heldin the White House Blue Room, followed by a public ceremony on 20 January, traditionally held before Midday, when the President’s term officially begins. The oath of office of the President of the United States of America is traditionally taken before the chief justice of the US Supreme Court and reads“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”.

The president will take the oath on the Bible. Traditionally, this is not just a formal act but has a profound meaning. Trump is also a very wealthy man. In the Bible, Jesus considers wealth merely a tool and warns us that it often becomes evil because men use it as an instrument of power and domination, even as a means  for exterminating the poor. We can all see how, worldwide,there is a planned and conscious effort to exterminate the poor. We have invested huge sums of money in producing weapons, as a result of which millions of people are killed. Regarding wealth, it is our responsibility to do what we can to transform it into an instrument for liberating mankind.

This is the biblical meaning of the love of God. Not empty words, but actual facts and solid commitment to achieve economic solidarity, social policies and an inclusive – not exclusive – welfare system, the awareness that the United States is a great country belonging to a global world, where there is urgent need for the globalisation of solidarity, not of indifference.

Let us pray for the United States of America and its new president that he may fulfil the Word of God, on which, in a certain sense, the entire American people take the oath, and live up to the Constitution and history of that country.


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Among the poorest of the poor in India

We are very pleased to post the first contribution to our blog by Fr. Bryan Lobo, a Jesuit from India, who is professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome. We are very grateful to Fr. Bryan for taking the time to share with us something about the amazing work that the Jesuit Fathers are doing among the poorest and most marginalised people in India. We are full of admiration for the dedication of Fr. Neelam Lopes, S.J., who leads such work, particularly supporting tribal communities to improve their living conditions through socio-economic, educational and health programmes. We do hope that from time to time both Fr. Bryan and Fr. Neelam will continue to inform us about the life and activities of the Church of this great country – India. From our side, we keep Fr. Neelam and the people he helps in our hearts and prayers and we will continue to provide our support to some of his activities.

Fr. Bryan Lobo, S.J

Last year, during my usual annual visit in India during the summer time, I had the joy to celebrate the liturgy with Fr. Neelam Lopes, S.J., Superior of the Missions in Shirpur (North Maharashtra, India). In the photos I am pleased to share I and Fr. Neelam are celebrating Mass in the Indian style for the tribals.

The people of this area belong to the Pawara tribe, a native tribe that is found in the western and central parts of Maharashtra. The Masses are normally celebrated, as seen in the photographs, in one of the halls constructed by the Catholic missionaries. The saffron colored shawls worn by the celebrants is significant to the Indian culture. The color saffron signifies renunciation. Saffron colored clothes are normally used by celibate Hindus (monks and nuns). The language used during the liturgy in these areas is Marathi, which is not the mother tongue of the Pawaras. Marathi is normally the language used during formal functions and in educational institutions. Most of the women seen in the photographs have covered their heads. It is part of the culture of the married Pawara women to cover their heads as a sign of respect.

 

 

 

 

 

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     Fr. Neelam (left) and Fr. Bryan (right) celebrating the Eucharist during the Mass.  (c)Bryan Lobo/Francesco Pesce

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Fr. Neelam (the first one, wearing a yellow scarf) and Fr. Bryan (sitting close to him wearing an orange scarf ) during the Mass. (c)Bryan Lobo/Francesco Pesce

 

 


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Let us announce and take the Gospel to the poor

Homily of the Third Sunday per Annum
Fr. Francesco Pesce
That Saturday at the Synagogue, Jesus took the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah and as the Greek text says, he found that passage after he had looked for it. In fact, the Greek verb is eurisko – from which the well known exclamation eureka! comes from. Jesus perhaps chooses a passage that was not expected to be read and instead He looks for and then finds purposedly to read it at that time.
It is Chapter 61 of the Prophet Isaiah:
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
release to the prisoners”.
What is this “good news” Isaiah refers to and Jesus echoes? The “good news” that the poor are waiting for (the poor are again the first ones this joyful announcement is addressed to) is the end of poverty. The prisoners await liberty, the blind are hoping to be able to see, and the oppressed desire to be relieved from their burdens.
In our world, we are witnesses (or often rather “willing” or “unarmed” spectators), to the many forms of poverty (material, moral, spiritual) injustice, abuse, disability, vulnerability…We ourselves, in our own lives, have our poverties too. We are prisoners of so many things and we are oppressed in some part of our hearts. But, as Isaiah predicted and Jesus reminded us: “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God…he comes to save you.” (Is 35) and “the truth will set you free.” (John 8,32). That salvation, that truth is actually the Lord Jesus, who is the fulfillment of Scripture, namely the realization of the “good news”. Therefore, it is important for all of us to have consciousness, to be sure that there is a reference point, a “Polar Star” to look at. We need to be aware that we walk across a path already traced and – using again Isaiah’s words – “smoothed out” by the Lord in the desert, sometimes the desert of our lives, our societies….We need to keep our eyes on him and follow him, by being led by the Holy Spirit, while being confident that we will not lose the way. Many times we look for something but we cannot find it (e.g. the solution to a certain problem, the answer to a question, the courage to make a choice …) because we only rely on our capacities,  we plan based on our reasoning, and we only consider our priorities…..We do not understand that we have to “overthrow” the way we think, see and do things: because first of all we have already been “found” by the Lord, and especially loved and “saved” by Him.
St. Luke continues to write: “Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, ‘Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing‘.”
Certainly we need to be informed., properly briefed; we must read, pray and meditate the Word of God. But after all that, we then have to close the “book”, “roll it up” as Jesus did, to put ourselves at the service of those who wait for their liberation and that have their eyes on us and expect from us a word of comfort, a clear stand on an issue, a gesture of hope, maybe even to break something…Let us remember what the Lord told us:  “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
Today there are millions of children, women, entire peoples that are waiting for us and watching us. Thinking “smaller”, there are so many people who expect a response from us in our daily lives – our neighbors, colleagues, family members and the many poor who are on the streets of our cities…It has been for too long time that our Western world, our homes, and sometimes even churches look like the community of Ezra described in the First Reading. A community that was closed to the external world in its self-sufficiency and forgot the needs of the poor. Many people are awaiting their liberation and keep their eyes on us. We, as Christians, what are we doing?
Our role as Christians is first of all to contribute to building a society that is “liberated”. All of us are first of all baptized in the Holy Spirit Who frees the oppressed. We must feel the pressing urgency of this task, of this mission – the liberation of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized.