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.
In the interview, the bishop pointed 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 that many Lebanese are afraid about who is coming into their land. But, we should also look at it as an opportunity to share with them love, to share with them the light, the way, the life: Christ,” he asserted.
The bishop called for people to have the courage to encounter migrants, 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 be humble,” said Bishop Boutros. “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.”
Lazarus, Martha and Mary were also poor and hungry
Bishop Boutros compared modern-day migrants to Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, who arrived in Marseilles probably as poor migrants.
Despite their financial position, they were rich with the message of the Gospel, and “we are watching every day so many Marys, so many Marthas, so many Lazaruses arriving here,” he said.
Although the New Testament makes no mention of Lazarus’ activities after his return to life, tradition has it that Lazarus, Martha and Mary traveled to France and that Lazarus became the first bishop of Marseille, before being martyred.
Pope’s presence in Marseille is like a father’s visit to his children
Bishop Boutros also reflected on the presence of Pope Francis in Marseille.
“His presence is like a 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,” he said.
Pope Francis arrived in Marseille on 22 September for a two-day Apostolic Visit to the southern French city of Marseilles, where he concluded the Mediterranean Meetings.
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 that “those who risk their lives at sea do not invade, they look for welcome.”
By Fr. Paul Samasumo and Sr. Nina Benedikta Krapić, VMZ