Mass for Migrants and Refugees at Our Lady Woman of Valor, Tel Aviv

Mass for Migrants and Refugees at Our Lady Woman of Valor, Tel Aviv


It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all of you to your new center, Our Lady Woman of Valor. It’s a center that belongs to all the Catholic migrants in the South Tel-Aviv, rich and poor, young and old, long-time or recently arrived immigrant or refugee.

Here, under the protective mantle of Our Lady, Woman of Valor, who showed such tenderness, to the young couple of Cana, when they ran out of wine ,at their wedding reception, you are welcomed to her strong embrace. Let us receive her valor! It is Mary's gift to us ,as we come together to celebrate the Holy Mass on this day. She remains always present to us, as her people, as our mother and our advocate.

We give thanks to the Lord for this afternoon's special Mass, in which the rich ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of our local Church, is made so wonderfully evident by your presence, your singing, your joy and your traditional language.

Here, in the Holy Land, I think that we truly capture the spirit, and live what we read from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, "There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God, Who activates all of them in everyone" (1 Cor 12:4-6). No matter who we are, or where we come from, in the Body of Christ, we all live "by one and the same Spirit" (1 Cor 12:11).

What we are celebrating on this day ,is precisely this unity of the human family. Something very dear to the heart of our Holy Father, Francis. And which he and the bishops, later this year, at the Synod on the Family, will strive to do everything to strengthen. This unity - the reason why we are all linked together as brothers and sisters - comes from our creation as persons, made in God's image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26-27). And this fact is strengthened even more, by our sharing in "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism" and by our worship of the "one God and Father of all" (Eph 4:5, 6).

Therefore, I encourage the diverse communities in our Patriarchate, to develop a truer sense of diversity in unity. Do not remain independent from others. Come together to exchange the richness of each other's religious, social and cultural life. This is most important, in creating an authentic unity.

I would like to express my special gratitude, to the Father David Neuhaus, the Coordinator of Migrant and Refugee Ministry, and to all the chaplains and their fellow workers, for their faithfulness to their charism of accompanying, supporting, and defending migrant peoples and refugees.

A special thank you to our religious sisters, who are dedicated to teaching the catechism, and who are engaged in pastoral activities. All of them have made ministry to migrant peoples, a priority in their apostolic endeavors. They are all tireless in ensuring that we take to heart in our daily life the Lord's words: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25:35).
Also, I would also like the express gratitude to all the benefactors, who made possible this center. Keep them in your prayers, as we also remember their kindness and generosity during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

We're all migrants
The Scriptures tell us that every land and nation belong to the Lord God (Lev 25:23); that we are all sojourners, guests of God in His land, on His earth. The difficulties that you encounter in this land are many, the struggles are great, but by the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ and His glorious resurrection, we are, as St. Paul says, “in all these things more than conquerors through him who has loved us” (Romans 8:37). Here we are all pilgrims and live as wanderers (1 Pet 2:11), journeying together towards our final destination, which is nothing less than eternal life with God.
An early Church writer put it this way: Christians “live in their homeland, but as guests; as citizens they participate in all things, but are detached from all things as strangers. Every foreign country is a homeland to them, and every homeland a foreign country.... They dwell on earth, but are citizens of heaven.”

Protecting rights
The Church recognizes the right of every human person, to leave one's country of origin, to seek “a better life and not infrequently, try to leave behind the 'hopelessness' of an unpromising future.”

All of us possess God-given rights, which stem from our dignity as human persons. Specifically, these include the right to have one's own country, and to live there or to leave it ,if one freely chooses; the right to live together with one's family; the right to have access to the goods necessary for a dignified life; the right to preserve and develop one's ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage; and the right to profess publicly one's religion; in a word, to be recognized and treated in all circumstances, according to one's dignity as a human being.

Though surrounded by many challenges, we are blessed to live in the Holy Land, a land where our Savior, God-made-man, chose to live. Thanks to Him and thanks to you, for the many blessings that you bring to our local church:
your unshakeable faith in God, often having been tried in difficult situations in your homelands;
your deep religious fervor, expressed in the many popular devotions, that color our religious life with traditions from other regions of the Catholic Church. At the same time, I encourage you to continue your willingness ,to generously help others, who are still in the process adjusting to life in this country.

Some are here for an uncertain stay as refugees and, as such, are particularly vulnerable to being treated unjustly, facing possible deportation. With them, we must, as a church, lend our voice publicly and effectively ,to ensure the full recognition of their human rights and their just treatment.

It is my prayer that today’s celebration, will be an incentive for all of us: priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful, to live Christian solidarity to the full, in the conviction that anyone who welcomes the stranger is welcoming Christ Himself.

As we continue this Mass, let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Woman of Valor, who knew the life of exile as a refugee in Egypt, to give us the grace ,to respond courageously to her words in Gospel, "Do whatever He - my Son - tells you" (Jn 2:5). Amen.

Sun, 04/27/2014 - 17:57
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