Over the next couple of days, I’d like to share with you what stood out most for me during Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico. First
it was his focus on young people. Sadly, my next point is a bit more sobering.
Pope Francis could not have gone to Mexico and not spoken about the many challenges the country faces. In fact, these were some of the first words that came out of his mouth, on day one, while addressing government leaders:
“This reality inevitably leads us to think about one’s own responsibilities when it comes to constructing the kind of Mexico we want, the Mexico that we want to pass on to coming generations. It also leads us to the realization that a hope-filled future is forged in a present made up of men and women who are upright, honest, and capable of working for the common good, the “common good” which in this twenty-first century is not in such great demand. Experience teaches us that each time we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few to the detriment of the good of all, sooner or later the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development.” (Meeting with Authorities at National Palace in Mexico City, Feb. 13, 2016)
To Indigenous people he said, that “the violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life (...) The environmental challenge that we are experiencing and its human causes, affects us all and demands our response (...) In this regard, you have much to teach us.
” (Homily during Mass with Indigenous Communities in Chiapas, Feb. 15, 2016)
All these issues are, of course, directly connected to the migrant issue. Referring to the journey that migrants face, he said,
“Each step, a journey laden with grave injustices: the enslaved, the imprisoned and extorted; so many of these brothers and sisters of ours are the consequence of a trade in human trafficking, the trafficking of persons. We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis which in recent years has meant migration for thousands of people, whether by train or highway or on foot, crossing hundreds of kilometres through mountains, deserts and inhospitable zones.” (Homily During Mass at Fair Grounds in Juarez, Feb. 17, 2016)
Perhaps the harshest words were for labor leaders to whom he said,
“God will hold us accountable for the slaves of our day, and we must do everything to make sure that these situations do not happen again. The flow of capital cannot decide the flow and life of people.” And, “When the common good is used only at the service of profit and capital, this has a name: it is called exclusion, and through it the throwaway culture gets stronger and stronger. Throwaway and exclusion.” (Address to World of Labor in Juarez, Feb. 17, 2016)
These situations make it harder to harbour hope. He warned the young people:
“The biggest threats to hope are those words which devalue you, words which suck out your value and you end up feeling down (...) The biggest threat to hope is when you feel that you do not matter to anybody or that that you have been left aside. This is the great obstacle to hope: when, in a family, society, school or a group of friends, you are made to feel unimportant to them.” (Address during Meeting with Youth in Morelia, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016)
During this trip, Pope Francis often had harsh words, but he always brought the message back to one of hope and mercy. On the first day of his visit, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe he had said,
“Do not let trials and pains overwhelm you, [Mary] tells us. Today, she sends us out anew; today, she comes to tell us again: be my ambassador, the one I send to build many new shrines, accompany many lives, wipe away many tears. Simply be my ambassador by walking along the paths of your neighbourhood, of your community, of your parish; we can build shrines by sharing the joy of knowing that we are not alone, that Mary accompanies us.”
This is how we can transform Mexico and our world: one day at a time; one family at a time; one step at a time. Not everyone will be the president or a labour leader; we are not all called to do great things, but, as Mother Teresa said, small things, daily, with great love. That is not one way to change the world; it is the only way.
Come back tomorrow
to find out what Pope Francis had to say about Marriage and family.
Photo credit: Pope Francis makes the sign of the cross as he prays before the original image of Our Lady of Guadalupe after celebrating Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City Feb. 13. The Marian image was rotated for the pope to pray in the "camarin" ("little room") behind the main altar. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:firstname.lastname@example.org