We are beginning a beautiful week of meetings, but I have to leave tomorrow to attend World Youth Day with Pope Francis in Krakow, Poland. With several of my brothers, we will be in a church in the city centre to lead daily prayers. So I wanted to greet you this evening before leaving.
I address a special greeting to the young Spaniards because today’s feast, the feast of the apostle Saint James, is important in their country. Many people go on a pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostela.
Here in Taizé, common prayer is at the heart of our lives. For us, the brothers, this prayer is what unites us. We are so different from one another. But we live with the conviction that Christ makes us one family.
Our community wants to be above all a small parable of communion. Bu our life in community we try to express that Christ came to abolish the divisions between humans and to unite us with God.
After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, nothing can separate us from the love of God. This love for each and every one of us is unconditional. It is the wellspring from which we draw in every prayer. Even if our prayer is quite poor, sometimes only a stammering or a sigh, we can be sure that God can hear us. Through prayer we always open our door to his love.
In a world where we are often disconcerted by the violence, recently in Nice, Munich, and in many other places in the world, we want to resist fear. For this it is important to return more and more often to the wellsprings of peace.
We must welcome God’s peace into our hearts. The prophet Ezekiel says that God can change hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Yes, God wants to give us hearts full of compassion and mercy.
And then we understand that God sends us out to others, to those who are different from us, to those who suffer, in order to create friendship and brotherhood. At the same time God opens our eyes to see the structures of injustice and hypocrisy in the world.
Brotherhood, to be able to expand, also needs political and economic structures. Locally and internationally we need women and men who have the courage to take this as the compass for their political commitment.
Brotherhood begins by listening to others. So I am grateful to Ibrahim for agreeing to talk to us tonight. Ibrahim is one of the refugees we have welcomed in Taizé.
Last November a dozen of them arrived in our village. That night there was a thick fog, and they wondered uneasily where they were being taken. But soon we became friends. Many people in the region have helped to welcome them and to accompany them.
Of course there are obstacles to overcome. They must be recognized as refugees, and then it is difficult to find work. Yet the difficulties are small compared to what they have suffered and with the anxiety that they feel for their families whom they left behind in their country.
I keep saying to these young people: God sent you to us; it is with great joy that we walk with you.
Ibrahim: My name is Ibrahim, I’m 27 and I come from Darfur, Sudan. At home there has been an armed conflict since 2003, which continues to cause many victims. I saw my grandfather killed, and my older brother. During a rebel attack, my father and five of my sisters disappeared. With my mother, I was able to run away to a refugee camp.
In 2013 the rebels looked for me and I had to leave for Libya. I tried to settle there, but life was impossible. So last year, I took a boat and came to Europe. I crossed Italy, went through Calais, and I was welcomed at Taizé.
In Europe many people are afraid of the refugees. Sometimes for economic reasons, sometimes because of fears that terrorists are hiding among them. I too am afraid of terrorists; I suffered a lot because of the violence in my country. But as a Muslim, I believe we must build peace. The prophet asks us to be merciful to the world; he sends us to live together and not to kill people. That is not religion!
In Sudan I did not know any Christians. But at Taizé a Christian community has made me feel very welcome. I see that we pray in different ways, but all of us believe that God wants peace. I trust that we can live together in peace and thus give a message to the world. The world needs our witness.