In June, we pray with Pope Francis for migrants fleeing from war or hunger, forced to undertake journeys fraught with danger and violence; may they find welcome and new life opportunities in their host countries.

To host means to receive, but in order to receive, our hearts must be open. In his June prayer intention, Pope Francis challenges us to confront our repressed prejudices and biases about the ‘other’ who arrives at our doorstep. This resonates with the idea of the Eucharistic host, which similarly invites us to receive. But there too, a certain preparation is required; a humble and conscious choice to be receptive to the living Gospel. This animated word of God exists and thrives in the very interactions with the people we are called to serve. There we can find spiritual nourishment.

With receiving also comes responsibility to care, to nurture, to welcome. As Jesus reminds us, we must always keep the oil lamp lit and our hearth warm. A gracious host opens their home to embrace the knocking neighbour. However, today, it seems our neighbours are met with no reply. Instead, they face a closed door, despite standing on a welcome mat, symbolising the masquerade of acceptance we all choose to do at times.

We pray for the Palestinian people seeking safe refuge in Australia and countries alike as they embark on a frightening but new chapter of their lives. The feeling of uncertainty and fear is magnified in the case of the fleeing migrant, all too unsure of their fate in a foreign land they soon might call home. No one should have to live off grass soup, watch their siblings perish, or sleep with one eye open waiting to be engulfed by rubble. Our response here is crucial. We have the ability to create and facilitate opportunities for this community and are hence tasked with the responsibility of fostering a loving openness. It is up to us to create a space for them to repair their now desecrated sense of home and offer the gift of hope.

If we truly listen to the intention of Pope Francis, hosting can become synonymous with a new beginning. It is not without its challenges, but it is in the sharing of what we have that can rejuvenate the spirit of a community.

Australia, renovations are in order. It is time to reconstruct our understanding of the fleeing migrant, because they are not so different to us. They have aspirations, fears, and reservations – just like us. We need to open the door to realise this, we need to listen to their stories to hear this, we need to dream with them to feel this. The pursuit of happiness is a universal desire, yet some have to rise from mud to even get the chance to begin. This is no time to be lukewarm. This is no time to be a bystander. The invitation to break bread and receive has never been so important. In the words of St Francis of Assisi, “it is in giving, we receive”.

Joelle Sassine
Josephite Justice Network