As I blogged earlier this week, my parish is observing the World Day of Migrants and Refugees this weekend with the permission of our local ordinary.
There is a Mass in the Missal for the “theme” of Refugees and Exiles. The Lectionary options are offered at numbers 927 through 931. My pastor called for Hebrews 13:1-3, 14-16. Here’s the text:
Brothers and sisters:
Let mutual love continue.
Do not neglect hospitality,
for through it
some have unknowingly entertained angels.
Be mindful of prisoners
as if sharing their imprisonment,
and of the ill-treated as of yourselves,
for you also are in the body.
For here we have no lasting city,
but we seek the one that is to come.
Through him then let us continually offer God
a sacrifice of praise,
that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have;
God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.
The first half of this passage is employed for weddings, as we examined here. Reflecting on this passage this week, I was struck by that theme in Hebrews that the Christian Body is on a pilgrimage. We are on the move. We journey through this world, but we are not really of it. Or we shouldn’t be.
Marriage is also a journey. Many couples experience a varied landscape as they move through life. Children come and go. Homes pass through stages, or often enough, we live in a procession of buildings as we move through life.
People who have left homelands behind, certainly know this. Sometimes it is a great burden. There can be a love and desire for the place of one’s birth, one’s rearing, maybe one’s education, human loves, marriage, children, and family. So many migrating people today leave this behind for gravely serious reasons. It is important to listen and pay attention for reasons why, and not assume it is as we would have done it.
Christians do well to recognize the commonality with refugees and migrants in our own lives. Even those of us blessed to be children, parents, and grandparents in the same community, and occasionally even in the very same house. In fact, if a Christian is at home on planet Earth, perhaps something is missing. We don’t need to relocate state to state or nation to nation to experience the dislocation, the worry, the lack of surety.
When people share a journey, there is attention to those who are tired, weak, or discouraged. Imitating our High Priest, we make sacrifices. We shoulder burdens, make room in our buildings and even our homes. We look for the commonality, as we too are a people away from home and with a long way yet to go.
Image credit: Camino de Santiago in northern Spain from evoke.ie