TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Migrants and Refugees

Today, Sunday, the day I write this message, marks the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, with its theme, Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees. A comprehensive kit has been developed by the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) which features stories from the community as well as other excellent resources which you might like to use during the coming year, particularly if you are involved in reaching out to our migrant and refugee communities. The kit can be found at https://www.acmro.catholic.org.au/

These following words are taken from the words of Archbishop Christopher Prowse:

There is so much for us to respond in embracing God’s future on our journey. There is “personal conversion and the transformation of reality”. We must never “lose heart”. “No one must be excluded ... especially those living on the existential peripheries”.

Migrants and refugees, too often on the peripheries of life, are never to be seen as “invaders or destroyers”. They are always “a source of enrichment”. They come to us “bringing their gifts”. So many are Catholics who “can energize the ecclesial life of the communities.”

Our readings for this weekend remind us of injustices that many in our society face. The reading from the First Letter to Timothy tells us that Christians are called to be “saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle.” We are meant to witness to the truth: that good must triumph over evil. Finally, the Gospel shares this message in the form of a parable about Lazarus:

“Lying at the rich man’s door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” (Luke 16: 19-31)

The following words from Br Julian McDonald are worth sharing with you as they remind me of the week I have spent looking at Mission and Culture:

We can take consolation from the fact that we are not caught in the kind of fixed situation to which the rich man was confined when he died. While we credit him for pleading with father Abraham to send Lazarus to bring his five brothers to their senses, we need to listen to father Abraham’s answer: “If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if one should rise from the dead.” That response is arguably the kernel of this parable as far as we are concerned. We are still alive in our world, able to hear the voice of God in Moses and the prophets and to encounter the risen Jesus, very much alive in the people we encounter every day, and in his message embodied in the pages of the Gospels. Both Amos in today’s first reading and Jesus in the gospel-reading are inviting us to reach out in love to others by sharing our possessions and our gifts and skills. They are inviting us to do the right thing with all we are and have simply because it is the right thing to do.

As a result of my week of lectures, readings, dialogue and reflection with the Graduate Certificate of Mission and Culture, I wonder how you are sensing the culture of your parish, or your school or your local community or your agency or your workplace. It is within our culture, both internal and external to our church, that we make real God’s mission of love, as revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Reading the scriptures, praying, reflecting, reading Christian literature, participating in conversations or faith-sharing groups that our God is revealed to us.

The assignments that have been set for us, challenge us to analyse the church environment in which we find ourselves, to see how true the culture is to living out our mission. I must admit that my head hurts after a week of deep searching and thinking.

I am reminded of our theme for our diocesan synod, Building the Kingdom of God Together. I feel a sense of energy by imagining the Kingdom of God being realised now, and the thought of building this together.

Our garden is responding beautifully to the increasing warmth of this spring weather. By next weekend we should have a wonderful display of roses in our rose garden and the fruit trees are vigorously budding, attracting the bees and an array of other insects.

I hope you are able to take the time to enjoy our days of warmer weather.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.