I am confident that those who are reading this blog are quite aware of the wave of immigrants and refugees walking into Europe. We have read the news accounts and we have seen the televised images of those fleeing fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We have heard the stories of men, women, and children fleeing hunger in north Africa. People walk for days without food. People pay thousands of dollars to smugglers who take their money and abandon them. Literally, people are willing to risk their lives for a CHANCE for a better life.
It is estimated that more than 4 million people have been on the move since May. PUT THIS IN PERSPECTIVE: The population of Louisiana is 4.5 million. Imagine every single person in Louisiana crowding Interstate 10, Highway 165, Highway 171 — all trying to go “somewhere”. Or, 4 million people represents twice the population of Houston.
The image of the body of a 3-year-old Syrian boy who had drowned washed up on shore was someone’s child.
Jesus taking a child, placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, said to them: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” [Mark 9:30-37]
Pope Francis has called upon EACH AND EVERY parish, religious house, and monastery in Europe to adopt/sponsor one refugee family. As the leader of a universal church comes to visit us, can we not in some way reach out to heed his call. If each of us does a little, we will see the miracle of the loaves and fishes made real in this day, in this time, for people with whom we share a human bond.
1. If your parish is taking up a collection, be generous.
2. If you want to support a credible agency with “arms wrapped around the world”, I suggest two:
> Catholic Charities USA
2050 Ballenger Ave., Suite 400/Alexandria, VA 22314 or donate online at: http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/donate
> Catholic Relief Services
228 Lexington Street/Baltimore, Maryland 21001-3443 or donate online at: http://www.crs.org
3. If your heart calls you to help those a little closer to home, do so!
If your diocese has an office of immigration/refugee services, please support them.
Bring canned goods, rice, beans, pasta — other staples to a local food bank.
Bring some fresh vegetables to a local “food kitchen” preparing a hot meal each day for the homeless.
Clean out your closest and bring jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts to your local clothing bank. The winter will be here before we know it and most projections are that it will be a colder than “normal” winter.
I respect the right of every nation to secure its borders. I know that no one nation on earth can do it by themselves. Imagine, though, after walking for days … especially for parents with children … what it must be like to be confronted by armed soldiers, tear gas, and razor-wire fences. I cannot imagine the pain and desperation — the sadness and fear that come in such a situation.
The needs of the world and the GOSPEL clearly intersect this weekend. There is no need to discuss or debate dogma or theology — Jesus teaches a simple message — what you do for them you do for me.
Three weeks ago the family of one of the students at our Charter High School lost their home to fire. They were proud homeowners. But, due to recent hard times, let their homeowners insurance expire. They carried only the required liability insurance on their car. The fire in the middle of the night took everything they owned, including their car. Now, they are without a home and without transportation. The community has rallied around them to help them to help them start over. It is easy to help when we know someone.
In our global world where we see the harm one person can cause through terrorism — we have the chance to demonstrate the good one person can do for another — even if we do not know their name.
Like the TRIED AND TIRED Nike commercial says, let’s JUST DO IT.