A Message from Bishop Burbidge on National Migration Week (Jan 8-14)

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January 6, 2017 

Dear 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

In 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.  

They 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. 

Here 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).   

In 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 lives.  

Our 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.  

Sincerely in Christ, 

Bishop Burbidge

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017