Reading about the Honduran caravan making their way in hope for a new beginning in a new country seems in many ways to be absurd, devastating, and disheartening. Being a Canadian having always lived in a safe, free, and democratic country, it is almost inconceivable that over 1500 people of all ages and walks of life would set out on this perilous journey, based on little less than a hope and a prayer. These people are traveling on makeshift rafts across parts of the open ocean. They are journeying with young children and babies. They are walking miles and miles every day, in the rain, the heat, and carrying everything they need on their backs. Sleeping on the streets and in church buildings, these people are fleeing their homes, their livelihoods, their families, neighbours, and everything that is familiar to them.
It is heartbreaking to think that the places they come from are that terrible. Migrants are risking everything they have, even their lives to leave their homes. They know that the USA is hostile to their arrival and yet they march on. Take a moment to think about what it would take for you to make the same decision to pack up everything, and take with you only what you can carry on your back. To leave everything and everyone you have ever known in hope for something better. How can parts of the world today exist where many feel this is their best or only option? The UN reports that 258 million people are living in a country other than their birth in 2017 (UN International Migration report).
What can we do for these people? How can one individual in Saskatchewan do anything worthwhile to help others facing this kind of persecution? We offer up our prayers for these and all the millions of others in the world who find themselves in similar situations. We as Catholics, believe in the power of prayer but we might ask ourselves what other actions can we take in conjunction with our prayer? Can we change the world around us in a meaningful way so that people do not have to flee their homes?
Though not a comprehensive list, here are some suggestions that I hope you find helpful and thought-provoking.
1) Be thankful for the many blessings that you have in your life, like the fact that you live in Canada. Even with all its flaws and shortcomings, it is a blessing to live in a country where we have the many rights and freedoms that we do.
2) Follow Jesus’ example. When we read the gospels, we read about Jesus ministering to those who were outside of acceptable society, like those from another culture, race, including those who practiced different religious beliefs. How can we take time each day to make a point of extending a real human encounter to those who are on the peripheries? Who are those that are most needing of our time? Who is the Spirit calling us into relationship with? Especially those who are from another culture, race, or religious tradition.
3) People within our own circles. Jesus also ministered to, albeit in a different way, those within the Jewish culture, and those in positions of power like the Pharisees and Sadducees. He challenged them to live out the law and to understand the many teachings with their hearts, minds, and beings, rather than in a narrow legalistic way. In which ways are we, or our peer group not living the gospel message out in our lives? Where do we need to be challenged and grow in mercy, compassion, and love? Who can we respectfully invite into a fuller understanding of the message of God’s love for creation
4) Live a life of authentic human encounter. Pope Francis has launched a campaign through Caritas Internationalis that is encouraging all people to truly encounter those around us so that we may come to know them as our brothers and sisters. Think about the care, time, and love that you give to your siblings. Is there a way that you can interact with others around you in a similar way? Can you say honestly that your faith has helped you to see “the other” in your life as a sister or brother?
5) Sponsor a refugee. Have you considered sponsoring an individual or family that is in a similar situation through the Refugee Sponsorship Program? There are so many wonderful reasons to sponsor a refugee; there are many challenges too. If this is something that you are interested in learning more about, please contact the Social Justice Coordinator at the Archdiocese at email@example.com