Taking Immigration Personally
The challenges posed today by migrants and refugees will be the focus of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 2016, according to Pope Francis. On September 12, the Holy Father wrote from the Vatican, “In our time, migration is growing worldwide. Refugees and people fleeing from their homes challenge individuals and communities, and their traditional ways of life; at times they upset the cultural and social horizons which they encounter.” And still further he wrote, “Today, more than in the past, the Gospel of mercy troubles our consciences, prevents us from taking the suffering of others for granted, and points out a way of responding which, grounded in the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, find practical expression in works of spiritual and corporal mercy.”
The Holy Father invites us to think about our physical or emotional discomfort about mass migration. At an even deeper level, he invites us to be spiritually unsettled. Our consciences should trouble us. We are to look beyond the inconvenience and upset that migrants can cause us. That people are forced from their homes by war, poverty, persecution, and oppression should move us to act on their behalf with mercy.
Fr. Daniel Goody, CSC, an associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, has written and lectured extensively on the spirituality of migration. He bases his work on the premise that the Incarnation of our Lord was a great migration: God left heaven and came to earth. It’s the model and pattern for human migration through the centuries. Interestingly, the same push factors that force people in our own time to leave home in search of safety and peace led God to abandon heaven, pulling the Son of God from heaven into the womb of Mary and the world.