Community, connection and belonging have taken on greater importance for many people over the past eighteen months. While our response to COVID-19 has seen us “stay apart”, each in our homes away from each other, our connection to each other has never been more acutely desired. We know that we are part of something bigger than our households. Each of us yearn to be reconnected to the “wider We”. But what does the wider We entail, who does it encompass, and what does it demand from us?
News reports from around the country and the world remind us frequently of the diversity of humanity and the human experience, of the varied challenges of daily life around the world, and most recently of the acute and urgent terror faced by so many of our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.
Pope Francis reflects on this in his Message for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees; extracts from which appear below.
The truth however is that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single “we”, encompassing all of humanity.
In our day, the Church is called to go out into the streets of every existential periphery in order to heal wounds and to seek out the straying, without prejudice or fear, without proselytising, but ready to widen her tent to embrace everyone. Among those dwelling in those existential peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached. “The current influx of migrants can be seen as a new “frontier” for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Gospel message at home, and to bear concrete witness to the Christian faith in a spirit of charity and profound esteem for other religious communities.
The Lord will also demand of us an account of our work! In order to ensure the proper care of our common home, we must become a “we” that is ever wider and more co-responsible, in the profound conviction that whatever good is done in our world is done for present and future generations. Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development. A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.
As the Church marks the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, may we all seek to “widen our tents” and embrace all.