One of Pope Francis’ favorite themes is the periphery. This is important. God works through the peripheries–this is the constant witness of both the Jewish and Christian traditions. The call of Abram, Moses, the runt brother David, an unknown maiden in Nazareth, fishermen, tax collectors, and countless saints. When the Holy Father suggests we attend to “Open societies that integrate everyone,” this is serious stuff. We need to attend to the fringes of human society, and we don’t have to go to the Third World to find them:
97. Some peripheries are close to us, in city centers or within our families. Hence there is an aspect of universal openness in love that is existential rather than geographical. It has to do with our daily efforts to expand our circle of friends, to reach those who, even though they are close to me, I do not naturally consider a part of my circle of interests. Every brother or sister in need, when abandoned or ignored by the society in which I live, becomes an existential foreigner, even though born in the same country.
Before we embrace a political person as a religious savior, ask: does she or he move outside fields of interest, circles of comfort, and with people who have very little utility, either economic or political? If not, question.
They may be citizens with full rights, yet they are treated like foreigners in their own country. Racism is a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting.
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