By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
“The Church’s mission has always been expressed through the creativity and talent of artists”. Thus Pope Francis praised the role of artists as he welcomed in audience in the Sala Clementina the artists who will perform in Saturday’s Christmas Concert in the Vatican.
Children will benefit
Pope Francis’ reflection was framed by the two organizations who will benefit from proceeds raised through the Concert. The first is a ministry of the Salesian Fathers called Missione Don Bosco (Don Bosco Mission), dedicated to the education of South Sudanese children in a refugee camp in Palabek, Uganda. The second will benefit Scholas Occurrentes who educate children in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, where 130,000 Christians are refugees.
Let’s think about child refugees
The Pope said that refugee children “must have suffered terrible situations”. He compared them to Jesus who descended to earth from “another place” where “He lived in a communion of wisdom, light and love with God the Father, with the Holy Spirit”. Here on earth, Jesus experienced “our limitations, and our sins in order to give us the Holy Trinity’s love”, the Pope said.
Jesus, too, had to escape Herod’s wrath, Pope Francis continued. This forced the Holy Family to experience the “anguish of persecution”.
Thus little Jesus reminds us that half of today’s refugees in the world are children, guiltless victims of human injustices.
The Church responds
One of the many ways that the Church responds to this tragic reality is through educational networks, Pope Francis said, introducing the work of the two charities. Refugee children “also need formation”, he said, “so that tomorrow they can work and participate as conscientious citizens for the common good”. Education is also a way to help people get back on their feet, give them back their dignity, provide the courage to face life and appreciate one’s own talents, the Pope said.
How artists help
Pope Francis then concluded his reflection saying that artists have always helped the Church express its mission.
Artists succeed in touching the most intimate parts of men and women’s consciences. For that, to those of you present here, go my thanks and my encouragement to pursue your work, to enkindle the warmth and tenderness of Christmas in every heart.