Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"As we reflect this week on the immigrants and refugees in our communities and beyond, may we more clearly see that in the faces of these men, women and children, we are invited to see not strangers, but Jesus." Bishop Michael F. Burbidge
their joint statement marking National Migration Week (Jan. 8-14), USCCB
President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Vice-President Archbishop José H. Gomez offer a poignant and timely invitation to
reflect, with gratitude, on the innumerable ways immigrants and refugees have
contributed to our Church and our country.
write, “[W]e are invited to create a culture of encounter where citizens old
and new, alongside immigrants recent and longstanding, can share with one
another their hopes for a better life.”
They remind us of the fact that even the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and
Joseph experienced life as refugees.
in the Diocese of Arlington, we have a long held tradition of welcoming
refugees and immigrants. Mindful of our
Catholic teaching on the dignity of every human person, we can look back with gratitude
on the many ways our parishes have welcomed the stranger—as Christ himself—over
the decades. We are taking to heart the
words of Sacred Scripture, “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have
unknowingly entertained angels” (Heb. 13:2).
the recent history of our own families, most of us can recall experiences of
dire economic conditions, immigration, religious persecution, fear, and
intolerance. This week I join my brother
bishops in encouraging all to reflect prayerfully on the witness of these
prayer is rooted in Jesus, who himself was a refugee. Moreover, during his earthly ministry, Jesus
was an itinerant, moving from one place to another as he preached, healed and
proclaimed the Good News. As we reflect
this week on the immigrants and refugees in our communities and beyond, may we
more clearly see that in the faces of these men, women and children, we are
invited to see not strangers, but Jesus.
If we have been slow to introduce ourselves to a new immigrant or
refugee neighbor, this week would be a fitting time to take the first
step. If the needs of immigrants and
refugees are not already part of our daily life of prayer, bring these families
before the Lord. Lastly, it is only
fitting that each of us should offer a prayer of thanksgiving for our great
national heritage of welcoming the newcomer.