Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees


“Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Heb 13:14)
Dear brothers and sisters!
The ultimate meaning of our “journey” in this world is the search for our true homeland, the
Kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus Christ, which will find its full realization when he comes in
glory. His Kingdom has not yet been brought to fulfilment, though it is already present in those who
have accepted the salvation he offers us. “God’s Kingdom is in us. Even though it is still
eschatological, in the future of the world and of humanity, at the same time it is found in us.” [1]
The city yet to come is a “city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb
11:10). His plan calls for an intense work of construction, in which all of us must be personally
involved. It involves a meticulous effort aimed at personal conversion and the transformation of
reality, so that it can correspond ever more fully to the divine plan. The tragedies of history remind
us how far we are from arriving at our goal, the new Jerusalem, “the dwelling place of God with
men” (Rev 21:3). Yet this does not mean that we should lose heart. In the light of what we have
learned in the tribulations of recent times, we are called to renew our commitment to building a
future that conforms ever more fully to God’s plan of a world in which everyone can live in peace
and dignity.
“We wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home” (2 Pet 3:13).
Righteousness is one of the building blocks of God’s Kingdom. In our daily efforts to do the Lord’s
will, justice needs to be built up with patience, sacrifice, and determination, so that all those who
hunger and thirst for it may be satisfied (cf. Mt 5:6). The righteousness of the Kingdom must be
understood as the fulfilment of God’s harmonious plan, whereby in Christ, who died and rose from
the dead, all creation returns to its original goodness, and humanity becomes once more “very
good” (cf. Gen 1:1-31). But for this wondrous harmony to reign, we must accept Christ’s salvation,
his Gospel of love, so that the many forms of inequality and discrimination in the present world
may be eliminated.
No one must be excluded. God’s plan is essentially inclusive and gives priority to those living on
the existential peripheries. Among them are many migrants and refugees, displaced persons, and
victims of trafficking. The Kingdom of God is to be built with them, for without them it would not be
the Kingdom that God wants. The inclusion of those most vulnerable is the necessary condition for
full citizenship in God’s Kingdom. Indeed, the Lord says, “Come, you who are blessed by my
Father. Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry
and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me, sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:34-
36).
Building the future with migrants and refugees also means recognizing and valuing how much
each of them can contribute to the process of construction. I like to see this approach to migration
reflected in a prophetic vision of Isaiah, which considers foreigners not invaders or destroyers, but
willing labourers who rebuild the walls of the new Jerusalem, that Jerusalem whose gates are
open to all peoples (cf. Is 60:10-11).
In Isaiah’s prophecy, the arrival of foreigners is presented as a source of enrichment: “The
abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, and the wealth of the nations shall come to you” (Is
60:5). Indeed, history teaches us that the contribution of migrants and refugees has been
fundamental to the social and economic growth of our societies. This continues to be true in our
own day. Their work, their youth, their enthusiasm and their willingness to sacrifice enrich the
communities that receive them. Yet this contribution could be all the greater were it optimized and
supported by carefully developed programs and initiatives. Enormous potential exists, ready to be
harnessed, if only it is given a chance.
In Isaiah’s prophecy, the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem always keep the gates of the city wide
open, so that foreigners may come in, bringing their gifts: “Your gates shall always be open; day
and night they shall not be shut, so that nations shall bring you their wealth” (Is 60:11). The
presence of migrants and refugees represents a great challenge, but at the same time an
immense opportunity for the cultural and spiritual growth of everyone. Thanks to them, we have
the chance to know better our world and its beautiful diversity. We can grow in our common
humanity and build together an ever greater sense of togetherness. Openness to one another
creates spaces of fruitful exchange between different visions and traditions, and opens minds to
new horizons. It also leads to a discovery of the richness present in other religions and forms of
2
spirituality unfamiliar to us, and this helps us to deepen our own convictions.
In the new Jerusalem of all peoples, the temple of the Lord is made more beautiful by the offerings
that come from foreign lands: “All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you, the rams of
Nebaioth shall minister to you, they shall be acceptable on my altar, and I will glorify my glorious
house” (Is 60:7). As we have seen, the arrival of Catholic migrants and refugees can energize the
ecclesial life of the communities that welcome them. Often they bring an enthusiasm that can
revitalize our communities and enliven our celebrations. Sharing different expressions of faith and
devotions offers us a privileged opportunity for experiencing more fully the catholicity of the People
of God.
Dear brothers and sisters, and, in a special way, young people! If we want to cooperate with our
heavenly Father in building the future, let us do so together with our brothers and sisters who are
migrants and refugees. Let us build the future today! For the future begins today and it begins with
each of us. We cannot leave to future generations the burden of responsibility for decisions that
need to be made now, so that God’s plan for the world may be realized and his Kingdom of justice,
fraternity, and peace may come.
Prayer
Lord, make us bearers of hope,
so that where there is darkness,
your light may shine,
and where there is discouragement,
confidence in the future may be reborn.
Lord, make us instruments of your justice,
so that where there is exclusion, fraternity may flourish,
and where there is greed, a spirit of sharing may grow.
Lord, make us builders of your Kingdom,
together with migrants and refugees
and with all who dwell on the peripheries.
Lord, let us learn how beautiful it is
to live together as brothers and sisters. Amen.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 9 May 2022
FRANCIS

[1] Saint John Paul II, Address during the Visit to the Roman Parish of Saints Francis of Assisi an
Catherine of Siena, Patrons of Italy, 26 November 1989.

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