In today’s First Reading God commanded the newly-freed Israelites: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.” How can we hear these words and not think of the migrants in our own country who are threatened with deportation despite working in the United States for years with spouses and children whom they may have to leave behind? In November 2000, the Bishops of the United States published a document entitled, Welcoming the Stranger among Us: Unity in Diversity. In it they stated:
Without condoning undocumented migration, the Church supports the human rights of all people and offers them pastoral care, education, and social services, no matter what the circumstances of entry into this country, and it works for the respect of the human dignity of all—especially those who find themselves in desperate circumstances. We recognize that nations have the right to control their borders. We also recognize and strongly assert that all human persons, created as they are in the image of God, possess a fundamental dignity that gives rise to a more compelling claim to the conditions worthy of human life. Accordingly, the Church also advocates legalization opportunities for the maximum number of undocumented persons, particularly those who have built equities and otherwise contributed to their communities.
In his message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees, observed on September 27, 2020, Pope Francis reminded us that not all displaced people come from outside our borders. He calls our attention to internally displaced persons, “an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated.” Let us remember not only people affected by the pandemic, but people displaced by wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, windstorms and floods, as well as victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking.
Having recalled that during the flight into Egypt, the child Jesus experienced with his parents the tragic fate of the displaced and refugees, “which is marked by fear, uncertainty and unease, Pope Francis says:
I would like to conclude with a prayer suggested by the example of Saint Joseph at the time he was forced to flee to Egypt to save the child Jesus.
Father, you entrusted to Saint Joseph what you held most precious: the child Jesus and his Mother, in order to protect them from the dangers and threats of the wicked.
Grant that we may experience his protection and help. May he, who shared in the sufferings of those who flee from the hatred of the powerful, console and protect all our brothers and sisters driven by war, poverty and necessity to leave their homes and their lands to set out as refugees for safer places.
Help them, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, to find the strength to persevere, give them comfort in sorrows and courage amid their trials.
Grant to those who welcome them some of the tender love of this just and wise father, who loved Jesus as a true son and sustained Mary at every step of the way.
May he, who earned his bread by the work of his hands, watch over those who have seen everything in life taken away and obtain for them the dignity of a job and the serenity of a home.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, whom Saint Joseph saved by fleeing to Egypt, and trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom he loved as a faithful husband in accordance with your will. Amen.
Pray the rosary again this week for the needs of the victims of recent natural disasters and acts of violence. Pray for our nation and the decisions to be made in this election year on any level of government. Pray for good weather for the fall harvest and for the safety of all working to bring it in. Pray for greater respect for human life and dignity and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.