On behalf of all of us at The Lay Centre, I want to send you our very best wishes as you begin your celebration of Ramadan. We want to express our solidarity with you as you take the opportunity to deepen your obedience to God by prayer and fasting and other practices dear to you during this intense period. May this be a peaceful and joyful time for you, especially as you gather in the evenings with your family and friends.
What is my hope for you, for me, and for us all, during this time? My hope and prayer is that all of us would have eyes to see the needs of our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable and have the magnanimity and courage to reach out spontaneously to them and do what we can to help .
An illustration of this attitude was demonstrated to me recently when friends from Cambridge Muslim College visited Rome and we attended together the General Audience with Pope Francis. Without a doubt, all of us were deeply impressed that this elderly 76 year old man took time to greet one by one the long line of people in wheelchairs. This is just one of many examples of tender generosity he has shown us in recent months.
I was equally impressed by the tender generosity of my Muslim friends. When our little group eventually left St. Peter’s Square, we raced to the subway to catch the train to The Lay Centre. We had a very tight schedule. People needed time to pray, to eat, and to leave for the airport in a short space of time.
As I was briskly leading the group down the stairs to the train, mobs of people surrounded us. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed lots of people in wheelchairs, but kept moving. I got to the bottom, of the stairs, ready to board the train, when I turned around, and discovered that my Muslim friends were nowhere to be seen! I retraced my steps only to discover that they were helping to carry people and wheelchairs down the stairs.
These two examples moved me deeply.
I promise to pray for you, dear Muslim friends, during this special period of Ramadan and please do pray for me and for us all that we would grow in a deeper commitment to “fraternal responsibility”, to use a phrase of Pope Francis. Let us pray for one another:
- that we will all have eyes wide open to the needs of our brothers and sisters;
- that we will have hands willing to reach out to them and do something to make a difference in their lives.
Salaam, my friends. May God’s peace be with you now and always.