n a message that would surely resonate in the followers of Vincent, Louise, Frederic and Elizabeth Pope Francis on Sunday turned his attention to the dramatic predicament of migrants and refugees who not always find a welcome, but often become victims of human trafficking and slave labour.
Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope said that on this first Sunday after Christmas, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.
He said that the Gospel narrates the Holy Family’s painful exile as it searched for refuge in Egypt and said that Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived the dramatic condition of refugees, “marked by fear, uncertainty and difficulties”.
Unfortunately today – Pope Francis said – millions of families face this same sad reality. Almost every day the television and the newspapers offer news reports about refugees that “flee hunger, war and other grave dangers, and go in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and their families”.
And Pope Francis continued pointing out that in far away lands, even when they find work, “not always do refugees and immigrants find a true welcome, respect, and appreciation for the value that they bring. Their legitimate aspirations clash with complex situations and difficulties that sometimes appear unsurmountable”.
So – the Pope said – as we fix our gaze on the Holy Family of Nazareth in that time when it was forced into exile, “let us think of the drama of those migrants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation, who are victims of human trafficking and slave labour”.
Pope Francis went on to say: “let us also think of those other exiles – I would call them ‘the hidden exiles’ who may be marginalized within their own families – the elderly for example who sometimes are treated like burdens”.
The Pope concluded his address pointing out that Jesus wanted to be part of such a family and be faced with these difficulties so that no one may feel excluded from God’s loving closeness.
The Holy Familiy’s escape to Egypt – he said – shows us that God is there where man is in danger, where man suffers, where he flees, where he is faced with rejection and abandon. But – he continued – God is also there where man has a dream and hopes to return to his homeland and to freedom, where he has a plan for his dignity and for the dignity of his family.
Finally, praying for families across the world, Pope Francis reminded those present that there are three key words to live in peace and joy within the family: “may I?” , “thank you”, and “sorry” – words that help lay the foundations of love, reconciliation, tenderness and mutual help and forgiveness.
Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/12/29/pope_francis:_refugees_and_the_elderly_are_the_outcasts_of_society/en1-759664 of the Vatican Radio website