Welcome the stranger

A Moment for Mercy - Welcome the stranger

Welcome the stranger! This is the challenge that will define us and the quality of our mercy as individuals, as a Christian community and as nations. As most big challenges, it comes upon us unannounced, so that it disturbs us and often leaves us confused.

For while most people realise the contradictory and even blasphemous nature of saying, We don't want Muslims because we are Christians, these arrivals, so dramatic yet so uncontrolled, raise in us many conflicting feelings. Are we really called to save the whole world and serve as the solution to all the wars and suffering in our times? It looks so overwhelmingly impossible. 

On the other hand, we know that in the face of so much suffering it is so easy to fall into what Pope Francis so tellingly called the 'globalisation of indifference'.

As we struggle with these huge questions, Christ's words that in welcoming the stranger we are welcoming him speak to our heart, and mercy is first of all a thing of the heart. Before and beyond anything I might do, the biggest struggle of all takes place in my heart: what place does the migrant have in my heart? Does he have a place, or is he asked to stay outside, for there is no place for him at the inn?

Let me open my heart to the suffering I see etched in the migrant's face as she strives to reach safety and a better future for her children, and let it challenge my attitudes. Let me ask Jesus to help me see his face in these faces of suffering, and also of hope. 

This is the question we cannot escape: What place do migrants have in my heart?  For some of us this could be the big question for this Lent.

By Paul Pace, SJ 

ABOVE: 2016 Drone Aerial from Homs, Syria from Mohamad Hafez on Vimeo.

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