Cardinal Tagle

In a message for Advent 2018, the president of Caritas Internationalis

invites us to broaden our view on migrants and refugees

Advent: time to broaden horizons

If we look at the birth and death of Christ with the eyes of today, we might think that he was a “vanquished”. Born in a stable and thirty-three years later crucified by his own people like any other criminal.
Despite his humble birth and humiliating and agonizing death, through the events of his life this man, from very humble beginnings, revolutionized the way we look at the poor and marginalized, how we think about power and who we consider to be “winners” and “losers” in our world.
Christ’s travels – while in his mother’s womb, during his life as a preacher, to the cross, to his heavenly Father – tell us about how to approach our lives today as individuals and as communities.
Let’s just take a moment this Advent to reflect on how often we see in the news images of pregnant migrant women crossing deserts or getting off boats completely insecure, with no home to go to. Will we be able to imagine ourselves participating in this journey or in the migrant journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem? The city was not prepared to receive or accommodate them. He couldn’t provide the care a pregnant woman needed. The Sagrada Familia was an extra family for this little place.
Can we put ourselves in the shoes of the shepherds who went to visit the baby Jesus? They lived apart from their society, uneducated and yet the angels appeared to them and not to a rich farmer, and said, “Do not be afraid.” The human response may be to hide in fear when something unexpected and unexplained happens, but the shepherds went looking for the child and then spread the Good News about what they saw.
Like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the magi, we are called on journeys that require strength, perseverance, humanity, wisdom and courage. On these journeys, we meet people we might be tempted to prematurely label or judge as a “winner” or “loser” in life, without knowing their full story or understanding what it means for our lives.
The only person who seems not to participate in a Nativity trip is King Herod. He stays in the safety of his palace and gives orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem. He tries to maintain his kingdom by using his power to spread fear and mistrust. The Holy Family reveals the “loser” card again and becomes a refugee family in Egypt.
When Jesus as an adult tells us that “the kingdom of God is within you”, he is asking us to open our eyes to a world where there are no “losers”. It is in small and filthy places that our kings are born, not in palaces. The poorest and most marginalized people in our societies bring us true messages of hope.
At Caritas, together with Pope Francis, we are asking the whole world to “share the journey” with migrants and refugees. The first step is simply to see the other person in their full, God-given dignity and not look away in fear, prejudice or hatred.
In this season of Advent, our “Share the Journey” campaign invites you to expand the horizons of hearts by organizing a short pilgrimage with migrants and refugees within the community. So that everyone can learn more about each other and create bonds of hope.
Each of these pilgrimages will be part of a 1 million kilometer global walk with migrants and refugees organized by people from all over the world. It is in the way we live our personal journeys and how we treat the people we meet on them that we can transform our world.
As we prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas, let us remember that hope, like the migrants and refugees of our world, is always ahead of us, guiding our path. As we open our eyes to reach out to others, we will discover that our hearts are carried by a great wave of love and our destiny will be peace. This will happen when no person or country says “there is no room for you here”.
Advent Message from Cardinal Luís Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis