By Vatican News
The first World Day of Migrants and Refugees was celebrated in 1914. Since then, this annual commemoration has become an opportunity to express concern for vulnerable people on the move, and to pray for increased awareness about the opportunities that migration offers.
Concern for the vulnerable
Attention to the vulnerable is at the heart of this Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm. In his homily, Pope Francis noted how the Psalmist “makes explicit mention” of those who are “forgotten and subject to oppression”. The Lord has a particular concern “for foreigners, widows and orphans”, said the Pope, because “they are without rights, excluded and marginalized”.
Care for the less privileged
Quoting from the Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, both of which warn against mistreating widows orphans, and strangers, the Pope described God’s “loving care for the less privileged”. He called it “a characteristic trait of the God of Israel”, one that is “likewise required, as a moral duty, of all those who would belong to his people”.
Not just about migrants
The theme for this 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees is “It is not Just about Migrants”. It is about “all those in existential peripheries who, together with migrants and refugees, are victims of the throwaway culture”, explained the Pope. “The Lord calls us to restore their humanity, as well as our own, and to leave no one behind”.
The causes of exclusion
Pope Francis said the Lord invites us “to consider the injustices that cause exclusion”. These include “the privileges of the few, who, in order to preserve their status, act to the detriment of the many”.
He gave concrete examples of how “developing countries continue to be drained” of their resources “for the benefit of a few privileged markets”. Or how wars only affect some regions of the world, “yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts”.
The culture of comfort
In the First Reading, the Prophet Amos warns those who are at ease and seek pleasure without worrying about the ruin of God’s people. The Pope said it was striking how these warnings remain as timely as ever, twenty-eight centuries later. Today too, the “culture of comfort… makes us think only of ourselves”, he said. We become insensitive and indifferent. “Overly concerned with preserving our own well-being, we too risk being blind to our brothers and sisters in difficulty”.
Failing to weep
As Christians, “we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty”, said Pope Francis. “We cannot remain insensitive before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep”, he added. “We must not fail to respond”.
Loving our neighbour
The commandment to love God and love our neighbor “cannot be separated”, said the Pope. “Loving our neighbour means being firmly committed to building a more just world, in which everyone has access to the goods of the earth, in which all can develop as individuals and as families, and in which fundamental rights and dignity are guaranteed to all”.
Being a neighbour
Loving our neighbour means “feeling compassion for the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, drawing close to them”, said the Pope. This means “being a neighbour to all those who are mistreated and abandoned on the streets of our world, soothing their wounds and bringing them to the nearest shelter, where their needs can be met”.
Sharing the journey
The Pope concluded by entrusting to the maternal love of Mary, Our Lady of the Way, “all migrants and refugees, together with those who live on the peripheries of our world and those who have chosen to share their journey”.