Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Sunday 30 August 2015
“…. a Church without borders, Mother to all …”
Earlier this month Fr Peter gave notice that today is celebrated within our Church as Migrant and Refugee Sunday. On this day, we are asked to consider the plight of those people who, in seeking to live in the peace and safety that we take for granted, have been forced to abandon all that they know to find a sanctuary often far removed from their homes and loved ones. We, as individuals or as a parish community, are asked to consider how we might be agents of faith and hope for these people.
The UNHCR reports in its 2014 publication Global Trends on Forced Displacement (http://unhcr.org/556725e69.html) that the number of people displaced from their homes as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations approaches 60 million – a number too large to imagine but roughly equivalent to the population of the United Kingdom ( 64 million). Each day we see evidence of this mass displacement of men, women and children - drownings in the Mediterranean, refugees struggling ashore in Greece from boats or ferries, desperate men, women and children massing at borders seeking passage to a safer place. Because we see this evidence so often now there is a danger that we become either inured to the suffering of these people or feel a sense of helplessness. To think that the issue is too big, too far away, that there is nothing we can do.
Because it is largely hidden from us, it is easy to forget that in Australia we have many thousands of these displaced people - refugees and asylum seekers - living amongst us or held in detention centres.
Today, during Mass, we will be addressed by Bishop Peter Comensoli and Sandie Cornish by video link (https://youtu.be/hY76MlAErd0) and hear some suggestions of how we might begin to make a difference to the lives of displaced people. We are reminded that whilst there might be little we can do to right the injustices that have driven these millions of people from their homes, we are not entirely powerless in determining what happens to them once they have fled.
First, we are asked to simply become a friend to those living amongst us whom we know to be migrants or refugees. To offer the hand of friendship especially during times of most need – for example, on first arrival, when held in detention or trapped within our own immigration processing system.
Secondly, we are asked to become informed. To set aside any prejudices or fears we might have and seek the truth of what is happening globally. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office website (www.acmro.catholic.org.au/) is suggested as a reliable starting point to learn more.
Finally we are asked to promote social inclusion. To do what we can to recognize the value of every person, to ensure that no-one is left to feel useless, out of place or disposable. This last recommendation is particularly relevant for the refugees and asylum seekers currently trapped within Australia’s refugee processing system.
Bishop Peter reminds us that our faith compels us to welcome the stranger and to put into action the commandment to love God with all our hearts and minds and strength and to love
others as we love ourselves. That we are called to be friends and neighbours to those seeking our help. He concludes by asking that, as we participate in our Communion sacrifice, we consider our moral and social communion with our brothers and sisters who are seeking to make a new home amongst us.
This week's parish bulletin
(For urgent or late notices not available when the bulletin was printed
please click on Stop Press)