Inner life and friendship

Thursday, July 5

Just as during the entire year, the international meetings will continue throughout the summer at Taizé. This week you have come from Germany and Sweden, but also from Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Poland and Portugal. These days volunteers are also arriving from all continents and will spend the whole summer in Taizé. Welcome to all of you.

A special event that is going to take place these next days in Taizé is the second weekend of friendship between young Christians and Muslims. The first weekend, in spring 2017, was a powerful moment, an experience of sharing and exchange. We wanted to renew and expand this interreligious meeting.

I would like to greet particularly tonight the young people who arrived today to take part in this weekend of friendship, as well as all the speakers of both religions who will lead the different events of this session. In particular, I welcome the young Muslims.

To those Muslim friends who will spend these few days in Taizé, I would like to say: your confidence touches us. Indeed, knowing that our community belongs to the Christian tradition, you made the choice to join us and spend these days together. Thank you and welcome!

For us brothers, it is in the name of our Christian faith itself that we wish to welcome you and enter into dialogue. Indeed, we see in the Gospel how Jesus went beyond cultural, social and religious barriers of his time to enter into relationships with very different people.

How do we adopt this attitude of profound openness that we see at work in the life of Jesus? First of all, I believe, it is through a full inner life that we can receive without fear what is different in others, their otherness, in a well-meaning trust.

The fruit of this inner attitude is found in authentic fraternity with those around us. For several decades, brothers of our community have been living this friendship in small groups on the different continents. In Bangladesh and Senegal, in neighborhoods where the population is predominantly Muslim, their humble presence makes it possible to form beautiful bonds of friendship.

If we speak of fraternity, it is also because we believe that God is a father of all human beings. And for us Christians, it is through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that we discover this unconditional love of God.

To allow fraternity and friendship to grow means respecting others in their difference. In any genuine interreligious dialogue, there is a respectful distance that should keep us from wanting to force the others to think as we do. Genuine friendship is possible with people who think very differently, even on essential topics!

Of course, this friendship also certainly involves an element of pain, because the treasure of my faith can not be fully received and shared by the others. What is for me the source of a deep joy can even remain inaccessible to them. That it does not stop us from entering into dialogue! Even with these mysterious limits, we are always called to love and respect the other as he or she is, to strive to know better what they believe and the way they live.

Recently, we experienced this during the visit of some thirty Buddhist monks and nuns from Korea. They wanted to share the life of our community for a day. What a great experience it was! We also regularly welcome two rabbi friends, very rooted in their Jewish faith. Our prayer is nourished by these encounters and friendships, and our community life as well.

At a time when our world is often shaken by violent events, it is fundamental to do all we can to express the truth that religions do not want violence but seek to be factors of peace, friendship and brotherhood among all humans.

Here in Taizé, for several years now, we have been welcoming refugees from various countries of the Middle East, as well as from Sudan, Eritrea and Afghanistan. Many of these exiles are Muslims. Over time, a deep friendship has developed between us. And our view of the world changes when we come into contact, very concretely, with people from elsewhere.

I hope that these days in Taizé allow each and every one of us to experience such a widening of the heart. We can then welcome one another and let others welcome us—the person who is in front of me, the stranger, the one who is different from me.

Your generation has, as never before in history, the opportunity to achieve universal solidarity. May we all discover today this universality of the human family. I believe that together with it there also increases a sensitivity for those who are very close to us.