Monday, February 02, 2015

World Day of Migrants and Refugees

18 January 2015
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading:
1 Samuel 3.3b-10, 19
Second Reading:
1 Corinthians 6.13c-15a, 17-10
John 1:35-42

Today is the 101st World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Today's readings are about “Call and Conduct.” The first reading is about hearing, recognizing and listening to God's voice. In the part of today's passage from 1 Samuel, Chapter 3, that the lectionary left out. God tells Samuel that he is going to punish his mentor Eli and his family because Eli failed to stop his sons from their blasphemous behaviour. In the morning, Eli asks Samuel to be truthful and tell him what God said. Samuel has to decide whether or not to speak God's truth to Eli, the priest who is mentoring him. What the lectionary left out is about the integrity and courage to speak truth to power.

In the second reading, once again, the lectionary omits a crucial part of the passage. Verses 15 in its entirety and the omitted verse 16, state, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, 'The two shall be one flesh.'” The Greek word πορνείᾳ (porneia), is translated as fornication or immorality. It is related to the Greek word πόρνη (porné), which means prostitute, which can also be defined as, “one who sells one's abilities, talent, or name for an unworthy purpose or one who has compromised principles for personal gain.” So I suggest that instead of fornication, it should be read as prostitution. If we think of prostitution and prostitute, metaphorically, in terms of immoral or unethical employment or use, we can imagine that Paul is saying that we are not to use others nor allow ourselves to be used unethically or immorally. In short, Paul is saying that participating in any way in exploitation is a “a sin against the body”, the “temple of the Holy Spirit.”

In today's Gospel, Jesus calls the first Apostles. One could say, Pope Francis' message for this 2015 World Day of Migrants and Refugees is Jesus' call for apostles today. The call is universal and contains a mission, one appropriate for our times. The remainder of this homily is from the Pope's message to the world for today.

The mission of the Church, herself a pilgrim in the world and the Mother of all, is thus to love Jesus Christ, to adore and love him, particularly in the poorest and most abandoned; among these are certainly migrants and refugees, who are trying to escape difficult living conditions and dangers of every kind. For this reason, the theme for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees is: Church without frontiers, Mother to all1.

The courage born of faith, hope and love enables us to reduce the distances that separate us from human misery. Jesus Christ is always waiting to be recognized in migrants and refugees, in displaced persons and in exiles, and through them he calls us to share our resources, and occasionally to give up something of our acquired riches. Pope Paul VI spoke of this when he said that “the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others” (Octogesima Adveniens, 23).

The multicultural character of society today,... encourages the Church to take on new commitments of solidarity, communion and evangelization. Migration movements, in fact, call us to deepen and strengthen the values needed to guarantee peaceful coexistence between persons and cultures. Achieving mere tolerance that respects diversity and ways of sharing between different backgrounds and cultures is not sufficient. This is precisely where the Church contributes to overcoming frontiers and encouraging the “moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization … towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2014).

It is necessary to respond to the globalization of migration with the globalization of charity and cooperation, in such a way as to make the conditions of migrants more humane. At the same time, greater efforts are needed to guarantee the easing of conditions, often brought about by war or famine, which compel whole peoples to leave their native countries.

Solidarity with migrants and refugees must be accompanied by the courage and creativity necessary to develop, on a world-wide level, a more just and equitable financial and economic order, as well as an increasing commitment to peace, the indispensable condition for all authentic progress.

With the words of Pope Francis in mind, let us ask our God to give us courage like Samuel's, so we can speak truth to power. Let us answer Jesus' call; and conduct our relationships, including economic relationships, as Paul directs, only in ways that treat each and every person, and ourselves, as a temple of the Holy Spirit. This is our call, this is our prayer. Amen!
Please share your thoughts.


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