Welcoming the stranger

By: JP Shortall

July 17, 2019

Tomorrow, Thursday, July 18 is a Catholic Day of Action for Immigrant and Refugee Children. The Basilica bells will toll at 10 a.m. for fifteen minutes followed by a rosary at the Grotto. More information can be found on the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns website.

"A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization–all typical of a throwaway culture–towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world."

-Pope Francis in his message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees 

More recently, Pope Francis has returned to the theme of encounter. In his homily of February 15, 2019, he noted that "the Lord speaks to us today and asks us to allow him to free us of our fear." Fear, he said, is the origin of slavery, referring to the experience of the ancient Israelites. He continued: "And it is also the origin of every dictatorship because through the fear of a people the violence of the dictator grows." But, the pope continued, Christians "are called to overcome fear and open ourselves to encounter. And to do so, rational justifications and statistical calculations are not enough." Instead, we are to see the encounter with the other as encounter with Christ also. “He himself told us this. It is he who knocks on our door hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned, asking to be met and assisted" (see Matthew 25).

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