November 3, 2017

Christ the Cornerstone

Sharing the journey, the call to love of neighbor

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“We know firsthand that these are innocent victims, that they should be treated with respect and dignity, that they are the people the Bible calls us to love. By heeding Pope Francis’ call to share their journey, we can all come to understand that.
(Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services)

Pope Francis believes that it is vitally important for Christians throughout the world to “share the journey” of migrants and refugees forced to leave their homes to seek a better life elsewhere. To help make this profound spiritual accompaniment possible, the pope has initiated a

two-year campaign in partnership with Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s worldwide charitable organization.

Dioceses throughout the United States, including the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, are participating in this “Share the Journey” campaign. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) are jointly sponsoring the campaign in the United States. Both CRS, working in more than 100 countries around the world, and CCUSA, the Catholic Church’s domestic agency, are members of Caritas Internationalis.

Why is this two-year campaign so important? Pope Francis is convinced that the international crisis of migration and the displacement of individuals, families and entire communities of people are something we dare not reduce to matters of public policy, ideology or racial conflict. There is a deeply personal story behind every refugee’s struggle to find safety, freedom and a better way of life. Only by learning and sharing these stories can we come to grips with the full extent of what is happening to our sisters and brothers here at home and throughout the globe.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the USCCB, has said that this campaign is “both spiritual and practical.” This is an example of “the Catholic both/and” that is so important to our Catholic way of life. The “Share the Journey” campaign invites us to pray with and for migrants and refugees. It challenges us to become the soulmates of our displaced brothers and sisters, to share their journeys in a profoundly spiritual way.

But we are also challenged to act, to open our homes as well as our hearts, and to welcome apparent strangers who are, in truth, members of the one family of God.

Action on behalf of migrants and refugees can take many diverse forms. We can reach out personally, as Pope Francis has done, to provide food, shelter, clothing and medicine. We can support the work of Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Internationalis.

We can write to our government officials and insist that our national policies reflect principles of justice and mercy consistent with our American values. We can speak out using social media or other forms of communication to defend the rights and human dignity of individuals and families who have suffered from oppression in their homelands, and who are too often forgotten and neglected as they seek a better, more humane life for themselves and for their families.

Our motivation for reaching out to representatives of the 65 million people worldwide (the greatest number since World War II) is charity. It is the love of neighbor that Christ commands us to demonstrate even in the most difficult of circumstances.

The parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37) shows us how to treat strangers who need our help. Because our Lord makes the Samaritan the good neighbor, he cuts through his listeners’ local prejudices and makes clear our responsibility to share the journeys of all who are in need. We know that charity begins at home, but our Lord challenges us to look beyond what is familiar and comfortable and to walk with (spiritually and practically) even those who make us feel uncomfortable simply because their ways are foreign to us.

If we truly walk with migrants and refugees here in Indiana and throughout the world, we will feel their plight in a deeply personal way. We will resist every temptation to say that their problems are not our problems, or that their journeys are not ours.

Let’s search for genuine ways that we can participate in Pope Francis’s “Share the Journey” campaign. If we pray sincerely, “Lord, how can I walk with my migrant and refugee brothers and sisters? How can I share their journeys?” he will answer us. He will show us how to follow in his footsteps as he walks with those who have no place to call home.

Let’s ask the Holy Family, who experienced the displacement and hardships of all migrant families as they fled from the unjust tyrant Herod, to help us accompany them and all others who seek a better life. †

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