Pope Francis’ trip to Mexico is coming to an end. Before returning to Rome, the Pope does not forget about migrants. He first prays silently, watching from a small stage with a black cross, the border between the US and Mexico, marked by a wire mesh. Many people have tried to see him from the other side, El Paso, the US part of Ciudad Juarez, across the Rio Grande. Then he celebrated Mass at the fair, with the altar located about 80 meters from the border. There were about two hundred and thirty thousand people in front of him. Let alone the fifty thousand people who gathered at the “Sun Bowl” stadium in El Paso to follow the celebration. Here ends the Pope’s visit to one of the landmarks of emigration, “Mexico’s Mediterranean”.
Prendendo spunto dalle letture della liturgia odierna, e ricordando il racconto biblico di Giona, che aiutò il popolo a prendere coscienza del suo peccato, il Papa ricorda che “piangere per l’ingiustizia, piangere per il degrado, piangere per l’oppressione” è l’inizio della trasformazione. “Sono le lacrime che possono purificare lo sguardo e aiutare a vedere la spirale di peccato in cui molte volte si sta immersi. Sono le lacrime che riescono a sensibilizzare lo sguardo e l’atteggiamento indurito e specialmente addormentato davanti alla sofferenza degli altri. Sono le lacrime che possono generare una rottura capace di aprirci alla conversione”.
Inspired by the readings of today’s liturgy and recalling Jonah’s biblical story, who helped the people to become aware of its sin, the Pope recalled that “weeping over injustice, weeping over degradation, weeping because of oppression” is the beginning of transformation. “Tears can cleanse your eyes and help you see the spiral of sin where you have immersed many times. Tears manage to render your eyes and hardened nature – especially asleep in front of the others’ suffering – more sensitive. Tears can generate a rupture capable of making us open to conversion”.
Today this word must resound with force, because “it is the voice which is crying in the wilderness and calls us to conversion. During this year of mercy, I want to beg here God’s mercy together with you, I want to ask for the gift of tears with you, the gift of conversion.” In Ciudad Juárez, as it happens also in other border areas, crowd thousands of migrants from Central America and other countries. People who want to go further, to go beyond. “A path burdened with terrible injustice: many of our brothers are enslaved, kidnapped, subjected to extortion or fall victims to human trafficking”.
This situation cannot be ignored: “We cannot deny – Francis said – the humanitarian crisis which has meant these years migration of thousands of people by train, on highways, or walking across hundreds of kilometers in the mountains, deserts, along inhospitable roads. This human tragedy represented by forced migration is a global phenomenon today.” Often, crises are measured in figures, whereas it is our duty “to measure it with names, histories, families. They are brothers and sisters who depart pushed by poverty and violence, drug trafficking and organized crime. In the face of so many legal gaps, we build traps where always fall the poorest”.
The degree of this injustice is “radicalized“ by the youngest. Treated “as cannon fodder, they are harassed and threatened when they try to escape the spiral of violence and from the hell of drugs. Not to mention the many women whose lives were unjustly taken away. “Now more than ever we should ask the Lord, “the gift of conversion and tears; ask Him to have an open heart. No more death and exploitation! There is always room for a change, there is always a way out and an opportunity, there is always time to implore the mercy of God.”
“Let us bet on conversion – Francis said -, there are signs that become light along the way. I know the work of many organizations in civil society that fight for migrants’ rights. I am also familiar with the work undertaken by many religious sisters, priests, religious and lay men who work hard to defend life. They offer help in the front line, often putting their own life at risk. By their lives, they are prophets of mercy, the understanding heart and the companion feet of the Church which opens its arms and supports.”
Concluding his homily, the Pope “used this moment to say goodbye to all our beloved brothers and sisters who accompany us simultaneously on the other side of the border, especially those who gathered at the stadium of the University of El Paso, under the guidance of their bishop, Monsignor Mark Seitz. With the help of technology, we can sing, pray and celebrate together this merciful love that the Lord gives us, and which no border can stop us from sharing. Thank you, El Paso brothers and sisters, for making us feel one family and one Christian community.”
After the celebration, Francis’ got into his popemobile, which drove him to the Ciudad Juárez International Airport, where the farewell ceremony took place. To the present bishops and authorities, Bergoglio gave a brief welcoming speech. The Pope thanked the Lord for having granted him this “visit to Mexico, a visit which is always surprising, Mexico is a surprise.” The words of thanks were then extended to all those people who “have made this pilgrimage. To many anonymous servants who silently who did their best to transform these days into a family party: thank you! I felt welcome, I received affection, a party, and the hope of this great Mexican family: thank you for having opened the doors of your life and those of your nation.”
Echoing the words of the Mexican writer Octavio Paz (who writes in his poem “Fraternity”: “I am a man: I last too little and the night is too long./ But I look up: stars are writing/ They comprehend without understanding/ I am writing too/ and this very moment someone is deciphering me”), Francis recalls that “what we decipher and what shows the way is the mysterious but real presence of God in the concrete flesh of all people, especially in Mexico’s poorest and neediest people”. Though the night may seem long and dark, “these days I have seen that there are many lights that announce hope in this people; many men and women with their daily effort, make it possible for this Mexican society not to stay in the dark.”
In the Pope’s heart remains carved the image of many people who “on the streets, as I was passing, raised their children and showed them to me: they are the future of Mexico, let us take care of them, let us love them! Those children are the prophets of tomorrow, they are a sign of the new dawn. And I assure you that at a given moment, I felt like crying at the sight of so much hope in a people that suffered so much.” Finally, almost inevitable, a prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe: “May Mary continue to visit you and keep walking in this land – Mexico cannot be understood without Her -, may she continue to help you to be missionaries and witnesses of mercy and reconciliation!” Now, Francis is travelling towards Ciampino, where he is expected in the early afternoon.