This is more important than ever. So many of our contemporaries fall under the blows of life’s trials, and find themselves alone and abandoned.” The Pope lamented how so many are treated as statistics, as numbers, instead of as faces, as people, with names and stories. “We must never forget it, especially when the culture of waste marginalizes, discriminates and exploits, threatening human dignity.”
The secret of life? … Fix our gaze on Jesus’ face and become familiar with Him.
Pope Francis shared this in a Aug. 17 message, sent on his behalf by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to the annual “Rimini Meeting.” The Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, sponsored by the Catholic Communion and Liberation Movement in Rimini, Italy, draws hundreds of thousands of participants every year.
The 40th Meeting, is convening Aug. 18-24, 2019, on the theme: “Your name was born from what you gaze upon.”
In the message, the Holy Father speaks of how no one is anonymous to Christ and how he knows each of us and our dignity, profoundly. The Church has been announcing this truth to man, he stressed, for 2000 years. “Christ loved us, He gave His life for us, for each of us, to affirm our unique and unrepeatable face.”
“But why is it so important that today, this announcement resound again?” he asked, responding: “Because so many of our contemporaries fall under the blows of life’s trials, and find themselves alone and abandoned.”
He lamented how so many are treated as statistics, as numbers, instead of as faces, as people, with names and stories. “We must never forget it, especially when the culture of waste marginalizes, discriminates and exploits, threatening human dignity.”
“How many are forgotten and urgently need to see the face of the Lord in order to find themselves again!” he stressed.
If this is the case, he pondered: “what hope can there be in this world? How can man find himself, and hope?” He cannot do it only through reasoning or strategy, Francis acknowledged.
The Secret of Life: To See and Be Seen
“Here then, is the secret of life, that which brings us out of anonymity: to fix our gaze on Jesus’ face and become familiar with Him,” Francis stressed.
“Looking at Jesus,” he continued, “purifies our sight and prepares us to look at everything with new eyes. Meeting with Jesus the poor and the simple found themselves, they felt loved deeply by a love without measure.”
In an age where people are often faceless, anonymous figures because they have no one to lay their eyes on, Cardinal Parolin reminded, the poetry of Saint John Paul II reminds us that we exist because we are in ‘relationship.’
The Look, Which Opened His Heart, One Like Never Before
Pope Francis, the Vatican Secretary of State also reminded, loves to recall the original vocation of the Evangelist, St. Matthew, who was a tax collector.
“One day like any other,” the Pope recalled once, “while he was sitting at the tax collection desk, Jesus went by and saw him. He came up to him and said: ‘Follow me.’ And Matthew got up and followed Him. Jesus looked at him.”
“What a force of love the gaze of Jesus had, to have moved Matthew, as He did! What strength those eyes must have had, to make him stand up!”
Francis had recalled that Jesus stopped, did not pass by hastily, but looked at him like no one had looked at him before. “And that look opened his heart.”
“This is what makes the Christian a presence in the world different from all others, because it brings the announcement of which – without knowing it -men and women of our time, are most thirsty: the One who is the hope of life,” Francis said. He noted that we will be “’original’ if our face is the mirror of the face of the Risen Christ.”
Being mirrors of the Risen Christ’s face, he said, will be possible if we grow in the awareness of what Jesus told his disciples: ‘Rejoice rather because your names are written in heaven’ (Lk 10:20-21).
Reason for Our Profound Joy
“This is the miracle of miracles,” the Holy Father expressed, “This is the origin of the profound joy that nothing and no one can take away from us: our name is written in the heavens, and not for our merits, but for a gift that each of us received with Baptism.”
Francis said we are called to share that joy with everyone, without exception. “This means being missionary disciples.”
Pope Francis expressed his hope that the Meeting always be a hospitable place, where people can “have faces,” and experience their own unmistakable identity. “It is the most beautiful way to celebrate this anniversary, looking forward without nostalgia or fears, always supported by the presence of Jesus, immersed in His body which is the Church.”
His Holiness invoked the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary and, “from his heart,” the letter read, sent his Apostolic Blessing to the Bishop of Rimini and everyone participating in the Meeting.