This past Sunday marked the 104th observance of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with migrants and refugees from 49 nations. The Holy Father had already issued a formal message to mark the special day back in August, in which he focused on four actions to take with respect to refugees: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. He expounded on these themes in his homily this past Sunday, especially with regard to the obligation of believers to welcome.
Addressing concerns on the part of host countries in the face of surging numbers of asylum seekers, the Pope said: “Having doubts and fears is not a sin. The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection. The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbor, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord.” The sinfulness of an uncharitable response to refugees lies precisely in that: a failure to encounter the Lord himself.
Our diocese is now home to many who have fled violence or abject living conditions, as well as those who have come in search of a better life for themselves and their families. The generosity of many from our local diocesan family has given them the hope of more stable and prosperous lives. As they continue to make their homes among us, may we be eager to extend whatever practical and spiritual help we can provide. For in failing to welcome them, we fail to welcome Christ himself.