The Bible is filled with stories of people migrating, searching, walking with the stranger, and encountering God in the unexpected. Last Sunday, as the Church celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, or the arrival of the Magi (three kings) in Bethlehem, I thought a lot about their journey. It was anything but simple. Their navigation system was a star, which lead them on a circuitous journey, including a detour to face a conniving King Herod along the way! But they continued on. They believed that despite the challenges, the farther they journeyed, the closer they got to Jesus.
This is a meaningful metaphor for the journeys we all find ourselves on. The more we embrace the journey, the closer we come to what—or who—we’re looking for. It doesn’t matter if we don’t know exactly where we’re headed or how to get there. The Magi departed without much of a clue (they were following a star, for goodness sake) but by being willing to embark on the journey, they learned their way, and eventually found themselves in the presence of the Christ child.
Since Christmas, we’ve celebrated the Magi and the Holy Family who both leave their homes to journey. The Magi journey toward Jesus with great hope; the Holy Family journeys away from Bethlehem to escape King Herod’s decree to kill all infants in the region.
Present day migrants journey with the anticipation of the Magi and with the vulnerability and challenges faced by the Holy Family. This week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops invites us to reflect on the migrant’s journey, as we celebrate National Migration Week. National Migration Week is a reminder that we are called, as Christians, to partake in the journey, to welcome the migrant, and to offer hospitality.
We are called to open our hearts and provide hospitality to those in need. It is our duty to create a space of welcome and acceptance to the migrant who finds himself or herself far away from home and in a vulnerable situation.
(USCCB on National Migration Week)
Every year, National Migration Week picks a theme.
This year, the theme is the Biblical
story of Emmaus—yet another story of Jesus and journey. It takes place right after Jesus was crucified and before people learn of his resurrection. In this story, we hear about two people who walk along a road to a place called Emmaus with a supposed stranger. When they get to Emmaus, they sit to break bread with the stranger, and realize then that he wasn’t a stranger at all—he was Jesus! This makes me ask: When, now, do we fail to recognize Jesus, who journeys with us? Do we recognize Jesus in the journey of the migrant?
This week, let us make a conscious effort to recognize and welcome Jesus in our brothers and sisters who are in a vulnerable situation, on their journey of hope for a better life. Let us also recognize our own vulnerability and need for support on the journey.
Colleen O’Grady recently moved to Philadelphia from the University of Dayton where she was working in Campus Ministry and studying theology. She is the Director of the SSJ Mission Corps-a yearlong service program for young adults. She has enjoyed getting involved in all this area has to offer, especially social justice initiatives. In her free time Colleen can be found visiting with friends, traveling, or discovering new gluten free foods.