Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy reflects on the Pope Francis’ November Prayer intention.
This is both the month of Saints and Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for in our homeland, yet we are called to remember that our true homeland is in heaven where we long to dwell with the Saints. Taking into account our many blessings and our own call to be Saints, Pope Francis asks us to pray, that the countries which take in a great number of displaced persons and refugees may find support for their efforts which show solidarity.
Where others see political problems, Pope Francis sees fellow human beings in need. He stated, “We must never forget … that migrants, rather than simply being a statistic, are first of all persons who have faces, names and individual stories.”
The pope signed a joint statement with Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos. It read in part: “The tragedy of forced migration and displacement affects millions, and is fundamentally a crisis of humanity, calling for a response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources,” they state. “From Lesbos, we appeal to the international community to respond with courage. We call upon all political leaders to employ every means to ensure that individuals and communities … enjoy the fundamental right to live in peace and security.”
We have a safe home with all that we need. We give thanks. Yet we cannot forget the plight of those who have no home, not even a homeland. Perhaps we cannot do much in terms of economic support for the cause of refugees, but we can pray for and about them. We can pray for leaders of nations who are in a position to help. We can seek out information on the status of refugees and speak about what we learn so that they do not become just “yesterday’s news”.
On the plaza in front of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi one can see a battered and rusty boat. It is not large. It does not appear to be very safe. Yet nine refugees sailed to freedom from North Africa in this tiny vessel. The people of Assisi keep this boat on display to remind themselves and all visitors to pray for refugees, to do what you can to help them in their need. What can we do to keep their needs before us this month?