Possibly never before have so many people been on the move, driven out of home, work, and their own culture. Political and economic instability, climate change, organized crime, or the simple aspiration to better education, jobs, or other opportunities for one’s family. In the more heartless sections of the Christian world, I imagine the idea of a Mass for Refugees and Exiles is a head-scratcher.
Readings are as you might expect: two passages from Deuteronomy (10:17-19 and 24:17-22) citing Jewish law on the treatment of aliens. Saint Paul cites sincere love in Romans 12:9-15b (from the wedding lectionary, by the way) or two passages from Hebrews on our forebears in faith being strangers and aliens (11:13-16) or on hospitality (13:1-3, 14-16).
Gospel options are three: the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23), the Last Judgment from later in that same book (25:31-46), or the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
For the song that follows the first reading, a favorite passage of mine–the canticle from Tobit 13–part of it anyway: verses 2 through 8. Two choices from the Psalter: Psalm 107:33-36, 41-42 (retelling a part of salvation history as the Israelites were led out of Egypt) and Psalm 121 in its entirety.
I noticed Psalm 91 is cited for two of the three possible choices for the Mass propers:
Entrance Antiphon Psalm 91:11
For you has God commanded his angels to keep you in all your ways.
Or: Jeremiah 29:11, 12, 14
The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction.
You will call upon me, and I will answer you, and I will lead back your captives from every place.
Communion Antiphon Psalm 91:2
My refuge and my stronghold, my God, in whom I trust.
This is an interesting choice, and not surprising. The ninety-first is a psalm of trust. Other psalms of a similar theme include the 16th, a prayer for safety in God; the first six verses of the 27th; an expression of trust in God as rock, the 62nd; 63, a longing for God; and perhaps the 131st, expressing child-like trust. Let’s admit it: welcoming strangers sometimes makes demands on those of us who are fairly comfortable. It’s a difficult thing to balance out the desire to do good with the need to feel safe. Maybe celebrating this Mass would help.
Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.