Migrations are a call to humbleness and fraternal love, asserts Lebanese Bishop Boutros, during the Mediterranean Meetings in Marseille. He emphasizes that we must not be fearful towards people on the move, but cultivate a spirit of welcome, as Pope Francis has consistently called us to do.
By Fr. Paul Samasumo and Sr. Nina Benedikta Krapić, VMZ
Lebanese Bishop Jules Boutros, who took part in the “Mediterranean Meetings 2023” in Marseille, concluded by Pope Francis, spoke to Vatican News on migration in Lebanon. He points out that Lebanon is a small country of around 4.5 million Lebanese, with over 2.5 million refugees and migrants.
“Most of the time you can find the Lebanese they have fear about who is coming into their land. But we should also look at it as an opportunity to share them love, to share them the light, the way, the life, Christ”, the bishop asserts.
The bishop calls for the courage of an encounter, underlining that we are all brothers and sisters and therefore should not to be afraid to meet a stranger. “It’s about the courage to go down, to be humble. It’s about the courage to listen to them, to look into their eyes with respect. It’s about the courage to touch them by love, by tenderness”, says bishop Boutros.
Lazarus, Martha and Mary also arrived poor and hungry
Bishop Boutros compared migrants to Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary who arrived in Marseilles probably as poor migrants but rich with the message of the Gospel, “we are watching every day so many Marys, so many Martas, so many Lazaruses arriving here”, says the bishop
Although the New Testament makes no mention of Lazarus’ activities after his return to life, tradition has it that Lazarus, Martha and Mary came to France and that Lazarus became the first bishop of Marseille, before being martyred.
The Pope’s presence in Marseille is like a father’s visit to his children
Bishop Boutros reflected on the presence of Pope Francis in Marseille. “His presence is like the father who is visiting his children, not only talking to them from abroad but coming to their reality, touching their reality, looking in their eyes, hearing their voices, their questions, their struggles”, says the bishop.
Pope Francis arrived in Marseille on 22 September, for a two-day Apostolic Visit to the southern French city of Marseilles. He concluded the session of the Mediterranean Meetings 2023. Reflecting on immigration and emigration, Pope Francis decried the fact that some Mediterranean cities have closed their ports in fear of an “invasion” of migrants. The Pope noted – “those who risk their lives at sea do not invade, they look for welcome”.