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April 24th, 2011:

Easter – Pasqua

Today I will celebrate Easter in Tone la Maji with all the boys and girls of the houses in Nairobi.
Last night, the residents of each house, each family, went to celebrate the Resurrection in the nearest parish, apart from the boys in Kivuli, who celebrated at home with me.
It ‘was a more “intimate” celebration than other years, only our children – even those non-Catholics and Muslims were free to participate, as usual, and no one was missing – and some few friends who live near Kivuli.

At the time of the prayers of the faithful, many remembered of having been baptized in the parish in previous years during the Easter Vigil, and prayed for the new Christians around the world who on this night have completed the catechumenate and have been baptized. In Kenya this night tens of thousands of adult Christians joined the church. With simple words a Kivuli boy prayed “for the large family of the disciples of Jesus, where also who has no home is loved by the others.” Another said simply, “Lord, grant that all Christians welcome the new members joining the church tonight.”
To be welcoming is one of the fundamental attitudes of a Christian. It begins as always with the little things. From going to shake hands with the stranger that we see lost at the entrance of the Sunday Mass in our parish, to listen to those who need to vent their frustrations, to organize humanitarian assistance for the support of migrants and refugees.

I learned it in Zambia. All participants in the Sunday prayers – is sometimes a only a prayer because the priest to celebrate Mass is not there – know and greet each other, at the entrance they exchange words of welcome and some news about the family, and if there are new faces, they go and greet them, ask about where they come from, and then at the time of the community announcements, after communion, introduce them to everyone. Leaving the church the newcomers will be approached by all, and greeted with their name.

In the Gospel we have a long list of different attitudes in front of Jesus. Mary and Joseph received him with unconditional love, but from the very beginning others have rejected him. To the contrary, he has always welcomed anyone who has approached him. The early Christian communities described in the Acts of the Apostles tell of brothers and sisters who meet in a climate of acceptance and affection, no matter what their origin as. The idea of welcoming not only to our brothers in the faith, but all people, pervades the New Testament. The two disciples going to Emmaus discover that the stranger is none other than the risen Christ, but it could not have happened if they had not received him in their home. St. Paul reminds us that to welcome the stranger is a duty we must never forget.

We welcome and embrace others because we know that Christ has welcomed us without any merit on our part. Who is accepted by must understand that we love him or her, with its gifts, problems and needs. We’re not doing it because we want to put into practice a commandment, we are not even making an economic or political calculation. It ‘s true, for example, that the statistical projections and the most basic common sense say that without immigrants Europe would die of old age within a generation. But Christian receive them in the first place because they are human beings, not because they are an economic resource.

We therefore welcome, with open arms and open heart, our brothers and sisters who came last night into our Church to make our faith stronger. In their vast majority they are Africans and Asians, the overwhelming majority are poor. Fortunately, the Church is not bound by the shackles of borders, passports, residence permits. No one here is a stranger. Who is not brother for the common faith, is brother in the common sonship from God
Happy Easter.

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