It is poignant that in the middle of a deeply divided election season, amid a world-wide pandemic, and against the backdrop of nation-wide civil unrest fueled by racial inequity and oppressions, The Catholic Church celebrates The 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
On September 27, 2020, we are invited to stop and reflect deeply on the state of our lives and our community. Pope Francis offers a message: Like Jesus Christ, who was forced to flee, we are called to Welcome, Protect, Promote, and Integrate all those who are forced from their home.
On January 2020, Pope Francis pointed to the tragedy of internally displaced people as one of the greatest challenges of our contemporary world: “Situations of conflict and humanitarian emergencies, aggravated by climate change, are increasing the numbers of displaced persons and affecting people already living in a state of dire poverty. Many of the countries experiencing these situations lack adequate structures for meeting the needs of the displaced” (January 9, 2020).
Today, in 2020, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees aims to inspire and encourage the people of God to embrace works of charity and justice in the area of immigrant resettlement and care. Pope Francis acknowledges that this humanitarian emergency, affecting millions of lives, has been “relegated to the bottom of national political agendas… But this is not a time for forgetfulness. The crisis we are facing should not make us forget the many other crises that bring suffering to so many people.”
Pope Francis calls us to respond to this pastoral challenge with the four verbs offered in the Message for this Day in 2018: we are called to welcome the migrant, protect them, promote their needs, and integrate them into our community. What a radical call this day!
In 2020, Pope Francis adds another six pairs of verbs that deal with very practical actions and are linked together in a relationship of cause and effect. He challenges us to go deeper, living out our faith.
Pope Francis urges:
You have to know in order to understand.
It is necessary to be close in order to serve.
In order to be reconciled, we need to listen.
In order to grow, it is necessary to share.
We need to be involved in order to promote.
It is necessary to cooperate in order to build.
Pope Francis states, “Displaced people offer us this opportunity to meet the Lord, ‘even though our eyes find it hard to recognize him: his clothing in tatters, his feet dirty, his face disfigured, his body wounded, his tongue unable to speak our language’” (Homily, February 15, 2019).
Let us see our God in our brothers and sisters most in need. Let us act, give, love, and vote in ways that respond to this challenge of love, understanding and compassionate engagement.
Pope Francis gives us clear and concise direction on how to live a faith filled life. Now is the acceptable time!