The World Day for Migrants and Refugees is Sunday 25th September. Every single day is often a huge survival challenge for Migrants and Refugees. World Days are important as they focus our attention, prayers and actions in a world where information fatigue can often interfere with our capacity to open our hearts and minds to understand what our contribution can be to supporting and enabling a dignity and quality for life for all. It is easy to realise in the world of today that those who have no choice but to be on the move as migrants and refugees, are no different from us – ‘they are us’. It could be us. Pope Francis published his Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees back in September 2022 entitled Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees.
Reading this Message anew in these days there are precious ‘seeds of wisdom’ (those signposts of the Spirit) that have the potential to open one’s whole being to discover new ways of seeing and acting towards ‘our brothers and sisters’.
Building the future
It is both surprising and shocking to realise that 2022 is the 108th Word Day for Migrants and Refugees, and that way back, the prophet Isaiah shared his approach to migration reflected in a prophetic vision, in which he considers foreigners not as invaders or destroyers, but willing labourers who rebuild the walls of the new Jerusalem, that Jerusalem whose gates are open to all peoples (cf. Is 60:10-11).
In Isaiah’s prophecy, the arrival of foreigners is presented as a source of enrichment: “The abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, and the wealth of the nations shall come to you” (Is 60:5).
Indeed, [Pope Francis writes in his Message]:
… history teaches us that the contribution of migrants and refugees has been fundamental to the social and economic growth of our societies. This continues to be true in our own day. Their work, their youth, their enthusiasm and their willingness to sacrifice enrich the communities that receive them. Yet this contribution could be all the greater were it optimised and supported by carefully developed programs and initiatives. Enormous potential exists, ready to be harnessed, if only it is given a chance.
Also, in Isaiah’s prophecy, the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem always keep the gates of the city wide open, so that foreigners may come in, bringing their gifts: “Your gates shall always be open; day and night they shall not be shut, so that nations shall bring you their wealth” (Is 60:11).
Pope Francis continues:
Openness to one another creates spaces of fruitful exchange between different visions and traditions, and opens minds to new horizons. It also leads to a discovery of the richness present in other religions and forms of spirituality unfamiliar to us, and this helps us to deepen our own convictions.
In the new Jerusalem of all peoples, the temple of the Lord is made more beautiful by the offerings that come from foreign lands: “All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you, they shall be acceptable on my altar, and I will glorify my glorious house” (Is 60:7).
[ … ] Sharing different expressions of faith and devotions offers us a privileged opportunity for experiencing more fully the catholicity of the People of God.
Lord, make us bearers of hope,
so that where there is darkness,
your light may shine,
and where there is discouragement,
confidence in the future may be reborn.
Lord, make us instruments of your justice,
so that where there is exclusion, fraternity may flourish,
and where there is greed, a spirit of sharing may grow.
Lord, make us builders of your Kingdom,
together with migrants and refugees
and with all who dwell on the peripheries.
Lord, let us learn how beautiful it is
to live together as brothers and sisters. Amen.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 9 May 2022