Migrants are ‘Christ knocking at our door’

It is important to see migrants and refugees as ourselves, our brothers and sisters, our neighbours, Fr Alexander Osborne said last Sunday in celebrating the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees at St Christopher’s Cathedral.

The priest shared his own story with parishioners, noting that he was a migrant and a child of migrants.

“My grandmother was a refugee,” he said.

“She was one of the children evacuated out of the cities in England and into the countryside during the second world war.”

Fr Osborne told those gathered that we must be ready to help our neighbours with Christianity, rather than relying on humanity alone.

“The bible shows us that when we have humanity without God – we always get the perspective wrong,” he explained.

“What we need to help our migrants and refuges and to help anyone who comes to us for help – it isn’t humanity, but it is Christianity. It is humanity and God together. We want love and patience and kindness and endurance. These things aren’t human – these are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are gifts given to us by God.”

Fr Osborne said he thanked God each day that his parents brought him to Australia.

“Gratitude brings us happiness,” he said.

“It also motivates us to build and contribute ourselves. I don’t deserve many of the good things that have been given to me. They have been the result of other people’s hard work – their toil and effort. Our country has been the result of generations and generations of hard work. Good deeds and good people.”

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In reflecting on the World Day for Migrants and Refugees Message, Archbishop Christopher Prowse said Pope Francis focused on the theme, ‘Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay.’

Pope Francis greets a young migrant during his visit to Mytilene Refugee Camp in 2021 (Vatican Media)

“In the message he points out that for a healthy society there should always be ‘the freedom that should always mark the decision to leave one’s native land.’” Archbishop Prowse said.

“In anticipating the Jubilee Year of 2025, Pope Francis recalls the important dimension of jubilee years as ‘an act of collective justice.’ Here people are able to return to their places of origin with the intention of ‘the cancellation of all debts, restoration of the land, and an opportunity once more to enjoy the freedom proper to the members of the People of God.’ In other words the right not to be forced to immigrate is ‘the chance to live in peace and with dignity in one’s own country.’”

Archbishop Prowse said the Pope concluded his reflection by reminding us again that ‘the migrant is not simply a brother or sister in difficulty, but Christ himself, who knocks at our door.’

“We are to construct ‘bridges and not walls, expanding channels for a safe and regular migration,’” he said.