By Robin Gomes
Caritas Internationalis is encouraging people across the globe to join and strengthen its advocacy on behalf of migrants and refugees this Advent as part of its “Share the Journey” campaign, saying God shared His Journey with us in the coming of Jesus.
“This Advent, let us remember the coming of Jesus, of his journey to us. Christ wants to share the journey with us, as he was shared with us by our creative God,” wrote the President of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, in a message for Advent 2019.
“Share the Journey” was launched by Pope Francis in September 2017 as part of Caritas’ response to his vision of a “culture of encounter”, bringing migrants, refugees and host communities closer together to strengthen them, confront prejudice and to recognise our common humanity.
Caritas Internationalis is the global confederation of over 160 national Catholic relief and development agencies.
Recalling his “Share the Journey” visit to Bangladesh during Advent last year where he met Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar District, the Filipino cardinal says, “their stories are our stories”. “Their sufferings and dreams are ours as well. We have a common path. We can share their journey.”
The cardinal says that Caritas Internationalis has found inspiration for its “Share the Journey” campaign in Nasrin, a young woman who works for Caritas Bangladesh, welcoming refugee children and keeping them safe. He says that she is a modern-day witness to the love, joy, patience, humility and kindness of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Nasrin a model of “Share the Journey”
Earlier this year in Rome, as part of its “Share the Journey” drive, Caritas members from all over the world created a giant collage of Nasrin’s face with pictures and photos. Among them is the picture of Cardinal Tagle’s grandfather, who was sent to the Philippines as a child to escape poverty in China. Pope Francis added a photo of his Italian parents at their wedding in Argentina.
When one looks at the collage from a distance, the cardinal says, the individual faces recede to reveal only one face that represents one human family, “the children of God, who are called to open ourselves to the creativity of God’s love, in togetherness, not separate from one another.”
Advent – God shares Jesus with us
According to the Archbishop of Manila, Advent is a time of waiting for the future, as refugees do. It is also a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus, who Himself became a refugee and was born poor like refugees, but He never stops loving. “I hope none of us ever stops loving,” the cardinal urges.
Cardinal Tagle reminds people of the things the Holy Family shared with people on the move today. “Some of them were told to leave their homes, others came up against the lack of room at the inn, of safety and security.” “Others have a baby born far away from home and family,” the cardinal added.