World Day of Migrants and Refugees

on 26 Sep, 2020
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Bangalore (India), 09/26/20, Sr. Jacintha Gracy Miranda, Coordinator of JPIC.- Since 1914, the Church started the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) as an occasion to express concern for the vulnerable people on the move, to pray for them as they face many challenges and to increase awareness about the opportunities that migration offers.

Every year World Day of Migrants And Refugees (WDMR) is celebrated on the last Sunday of the month of September. This year, 106th WDMR, is on September 27, 2020. The Holy Father has chosen the title for this day as “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee” to focus on the pastoral care of internally displaced people (IDPs). In the light of the tragic events of 2020, Pope Francis calls on the universal church to embrace all those who are experiencing situations of precariousness, abandonment, marginalization and rejection as a result of COVID-19, although being concerned about internally displaced persons (IDPs).

In his message, Holy father talks of the image that inspired Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia (August 1, 1952), that depicts the experience of the sad fate of the child Jesus who had the same experience of the displaced and refugees who marked by fear, uncertainty and unease, flee from their own countries due to hunger, war, dangers and in search of job, security and a dignified life for themselves and for their families.

Pope Francis reminds us that displaced people offer us an 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”. We are called to respond to this pastoral challenge with the four verbs; welcome, protect, promote and integrate.

To these, Pope Francis added another six pairs of verbs in his message which are practical Actions and are linked

together in a relationship of cause and effect. 

  • You have to knowin order tounderstand.
  • It is necessary to be closein order to serve.
  • In order to be reconciled, we need to listen.
  • In order to grow, it is necessary to share.
  • We needto be involvedin order to promote.
  • It is necessary to cooperatein order to build.

To summarize Pope’s message, it could be enumerated as few anecdotes for life, especially in our commitment to work with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), marginalized, migrants and the refugees:

  • Encounter which is personal and real, leading to service

Knowledge is a necessary step towards understanding others. Migrants and displaced persons, are not numbers but real people. It is through encounter with them, we come to know their stories and understand them better.

  • Embrace ‘go slow’ approach to listen attentively leading to reconciliation and sharing

In order to be reconciled we need to listen. God himself did this by sending his Son into the world to listen to humanity with human ears (Jn 3:16-17). In today’s world of mass media, there is a great vacuum of listening hearts. But it is only through humble and attentive listening that we can truly be reconciled.

In order to grow it is necessary to share.  The first Christian community had everything in common and shared with one another (cf. Acts 4:32). God wanted that resources of our planet have to be shared in order to grow together.

  • Empowerment is involving the powerless with inclusive approach

We need to be involved in order to promote. The Lord approaches the Samaritan woman, listens and speaks to her heart, and then leads her to the truth and makes her a herald of the Good News (Jn 4:1-30).  We must find courage to create spaces where everyone is recognized and allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity.

It is necessary to cooperate in order to build. St. Paul urged the community of Corinth to be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (cf. 1 Cor 1:10). Building the Kingdom of God is a duty of all Christians and so, it is important to cooperate, without jealousy, discord and division.

At the end of his message, Pope Francis entrusts all the internally displaced persons (IDPs), migrants and displaced under the watchful care of St. Joseph, so that he may obtain for them the dignity of a job and the serenity of a home.

Heeding the call of Pope Francis, let us too pledge to be ready warriors to encounter the needy with closeness, understanding to listen and empower them by promoting them to be their own agents towards their liberation and redemption without excluding anyone, even the least, last and the lost.