The Bible tells us, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (Mt 2:13-14), that Joseph was told by an angel of the Lord to flee to Egypt, together with Mary and the newborn Jesus.
“After they had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying to him, ‘Arise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you; for Herod will seek the child to kill him. And Joseph arose and took the child and his mother by night and fled into Egypt”.
Sadly, human history is littered with STORIES of people having to leave their homes, their families, their lands, their lives… to go and live in the new, the unknown. And we say STORIES with capital letters because behind them are the lives of people who have suffered and are suffering from uprooting and vulnerability.
Every 20th June, the United Nations commemorates World Refugee Day. As Marists of Champagnat, we too today want to remember the people who are forced to leave their homeland and start a new life far from their homes. The United Nations, and we together with them, want to make this situation known, we want to take the side of those who are suffering.
In much of the world, the news reminds us of all those who have had to flee the barbarity of war in Ukraine. It is not just this country. There are too many situations of war, injustice, hunger… that drive thousands of people to abandon their lives in search of a life of peace and dignity.
Sometimes, without realizing it, we can be immersed in the thought that there are first- and second-class refugees. Why do the media tell us about the war in Ukraine and not in other parts of our world? Why are some leaders in favor of welcoming some refugees based on where they come from? Are we not also falling into the trap of distinguishing people by where they come from, or by their creed, or by the color of their skin? World Refugee Day 2022 reminds us that it should not matter who these people are, what religion they believe in, where they come from, when how or why they have been forced to flee.
Pope Francis, in Fratelli Tutti (11), tells us that we are always on the way, that we must fight every day to achieve justice and solidarity. We continue to see the need to continue on this path in the newspapers and the media. The world is often broken by pain, broken by the suffering of those who can only flee for their lives and those of their loved ones.
Also, the 22nd General Chapter of the Marist Brothers draws our attention to the need to “make a decisive commitment to defend” the dignity of refugees and migrants, seeking their inclusion in society.
As Marists of Champagnat we are called to respond to this desire of the Chapter. We have admirable projects that try to help thousands of displaced people in these situations. Let us think, for example, of the “Fratelli” project that has been going on for years in Lebanon. Initiatives that help to find work, that offer medical care, that provide psychological support services, and above all initiatives aimed at providing a suitable educational space adapted to personal characteristics and needs.
We cannot stand still, we cannot take refuge in the “I” and forget about the “we”, which is where the true dignity of all human beings lies.