Refugees. That Christians may defend and protect refugees.
Jesus Christ identified with the victims of this world. He said, “Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt. 25:40). Jesus could well identify with refugees because he began his own life on earth as a refugee, forced to seek asylum in Egypt until the death of King Herod. We live in a world where the existence of refugees has become commonplace — despite the fact that 35 million “of our fellow human beings are uprooted and relegated to miserable and painful conditions.” Pope Benedict XVI has spoken passionately that “these, our brothers and sisters, so badly tested by suffering, should be guaranteed asylum and the recognition of their rights” (Holy See’s United Nations Address on Refugees, October 2, 2007; World Refugee Survey, 2007).
But how can we care when we are overwhelmed year after year by heart-wrenching photographs and mindboggling statistics portraying this suffering? Even those who have been touched in the past to give to relief organizations often succumb to “donor fatigue.” Only by the grace of God can we open and reopen our hearts to those millions who are pushed from place to place or are forced to live in camps for indefinite periods of time. Pope Benedict has put refugees at the top of our prayer list for September. As the Vicar of Jesus Christ, he asks us to open our minds and our hearts to displaced people. He wants us to pray that all Christians may defend and protect refugees. The Pope believes that today’s refugees should be granted various rights appropriate to their dignity as persons created by God. What are these rights? Specifically, the Pope declares that refugees have the rights of asylum, emergency relief, legal residency status, employment, housing, education, health care, and family unity. We pray for refugees.
How will you seek to protect and defend refugees you may encounter in your own community?
Matthew 25: 34-36: Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
Christian Families. That every Christian family may be a small evangelizing community which is responsive to the needs of others.
In his 2008 World Day of Peace Message, the Pope celebrated the family, calling it “a cradle of life and love” and “the primary place of humanization for the person and society.” Because it is our smallest social unit, the family is the basic building block of all civilizations. The definition of a good family is that family members take care of one another. Because of our bonds of love and shared history, we are there for each other in good times and bad. We Christians, in particular, honor the closeness of the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. We seek similarly close ties in our own families. We seek to build our family relationships on love, starting of course with the ever-growing love between husband and wife. But this month the Pope wants us to look a little beyond our immediate families. He asks us to pray that all Christian families may open themselves to caring about other families and other individuals. He understands that a family that is filled with Christian joy is a powerful force for attracting others to the faith. We pray this month that Christian families, including our own, may be responsive to the needs of others. We strive to embrace others in need as we embrace our own family members in need, seeking only their good. We will try to open our eyes and notice what concrete good we can do, however small. Our God, who is Love, is revealed in the loving things we do.
There is no more powerful witness to God’s love to those who do not know it than to see a family that is healthy and happy, that supports each other in difficulties, and that takes time to reach out in honest love to others. We pray with Pope Benedict that every Christian family may be responsive to the needs of others. We pray also that our own families may abide in the love of the Holy Family.
How do you as a family share the love of God among yourselves? How do you open up this love to those outside your family?
Colossians 3: 12-13 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
Daily Offering Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers,works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
Prayer of the Month
Lord, no one is a stranger to you,
and no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness, watch over refugees and exiles,
those separated from their loved ones,
young people who are lost, and those
who have left or run away from home.
Bring them back safely to the place
where they long to be and help us always
to show your kindness to strangers
and those in need.
–from the Votive Mass for Refugees and Exiles