Earlier this year, Pope Francis issued a statement for World Day of Migrants and Refugees reflecting on the theme, “Building the future with migrants and refugees.” This future, the pope says, must be “a future in which every person may find his or her place and be respected; in which migrants, refugees, displaced persons and the victims of human trafficking may live in peace and with dignity. So that the Kingdom of God is realized with them, without exclusion.”
The Holy Father wants to call our attention to the plight of men, women and children who have been forced to leave their homes and seek a new homeland where their families can be safe, and where they can grow on a social, economic, cultural and spiritual level. Pope Francis urges us to see these families as members of God’s family, our own sisters and brothers. He challenges us to look beyond the statistics to the faces of real people who only want what all parents want — a better life for their children.
“Migrants must be welcomed, accompanied, supported and integrated,” the Holy Father insists. To turn our backs on members of God’s family is to reject Jesus, our brother. To refuse to walk with them, or support them, or help them integrate into our society, is to commit the grave sin of indifference. This is the sin that our Lord warned us against in his parable of The Good Samaritan. In this famous story, it is the foreigner who welcomes, supports and shares generously with the wounded man who has been ignored by his own kind and left to die.
Pope Francis reminds us that we are all migrants.
“The ultimate meaning of our ‘journey’ in this world,” the pope says, “is the search for our true homeland, the Kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus Christ, which will find its full realization when he comes in glory.”
God’s Kingdom has not yet been brought to fulfillment, but it is available to us in the measure that we help one another to seek and find what we are all seeking.
The Gospel challenges us to be people who seek justice and charity for all, and who are determined to work together with all our sisters and brothers to build a future full of hope. As Pope Francis teaches us: “The inclusion of those most vulnerable is the necessary condition for full citizenship in God’s Kingdom.”
And isn’t this precisely what Jesus meant when he said: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me”(Mt 25:40)? How can we become citizens of God’s kingdom if we reject, ignore or abuse God’s only Son in the person of our brothers and sisters?
Pope Francis concludes with a beautiful prayer inspired by St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, let us learn how beautiful it is to live together as brothers and sisters!”
Dan Conway is a member of Holy Trinity Church, serves as a member of The Record’s editorial board and is a writer, consultant and stewardship educator.