Today is World Day of Migrants and Refugees. It is a highly relevant day for us to mark in the life of the Church.
The unrest and war in our world is driving entire families and communities to seek refuge in other countries, countries that are essentially nothing like these people have known or experienced before. To arrive in these places, refugees are putting themselves in the kind of risk that barely any of us can even comprehend. In some cases, people are willing to risk dying for the opportunity, or dying for those they love. Often, people are saying goodbye to their loved ones and not knowing if they will ever see them again. They are consciously willing to do this, if only their loved ones reach a better place.
The way that all of this is portrayed so regularly in our news – next to so much other heartache and of course the sports results – puts us at risk of turning off from the pain and the real struggles of these people. Our culture, which so often seems to teach partisan values, gently whispers to us that these people are not our concern.
This is a dreadful and deeply unchristian whisper. Christ’s love does not act better in certain countries or within certain racial groups. There simply are no such boundaries for the love of God. Instead, these people are our sisters and brothers.
Christ told the disciples: ‘If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’ He taught them to work and act in his name.
So, in terms of today’s spotlight, where in our lives do we act in his name? Or, rather more pertinently, where do we not act in his name? Where do we choose to look the other way, to abandon our discipleship because we prefer to say ‘they are not not problem’?
Even if we are not working for aid agencies or directly involved in the plight of the refugees, Christ asks us to not be an obstacle in the fate of these unfortunate people. When we say there is no room in our country, when we begin showing racist intolerance, then we are complicit in the world view.
The Holy Family were themselves refugees. They were in flight, Jesus Mary and Joseph. Are we going to find a place for them in our world, our world where we are not at risk of being bombed or crucified on a street corner, our world where we do not subjugate women and other margin groups simply for being who they are? Or are we going to look the other way? For, if you do this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it to me.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (9:38-43.45.47-48)
Glory to you, O Lord.
Theme: Anyone who is not against us is for us. If your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off.
John said to Jesus, ‘Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said,
‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.
‘If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ,
then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.
‘But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck. And if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that cannot be put out. And if your foot should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life lame, than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where their worm does not die nor their fire go out.’
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.