Sunday, December 30, 2012

Holy Families in Solidarity

Flight to Egypt by Fritz Eichenberg
Mother Teresa spoke of seeing Jesus "in disturbing disguise" within the poor whom she served.  What if the Holy Family is mysteriously present "in disturbing disguise" within the countless families who are in dire circumstances today?

The migration of peoples has become a global phenomenon.  Whether they be political or economic refugees, hundreds of thousands of families are driven from their homes each year to seek new beginnings in far off places.  And countless other families face difficulties which leave them feeling helpless and hopeless.

Each month Pope Benedict selects two prayer intentions--one general and one focused on missions--which are promoted by the Apostleship of Prayer.  At the close of 2012, the Holy Father's intentions dovetail with the global issues faced by families and the ongoing celebration of Christmas:  "That migrants throughout the world may be welcomed with generosity and authentic love, especially by Christian communities"; and "That Christ may reveal himself to all humanity with the light that shines forth from Bethlehem and is reflected in the face of his Church."

So where are the families who await "the light that shines forth from Bethlehem"?  And how can we help welcome migrants with "generosity and authentic love"?  I'm sure that we could all offer multiple answers to these questions, but here are a couple responses that are close to my family's heart this year--one international, one national and one local:
  • Pairing Families from "First-World" and "Emerging" Economies:  Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA) is a Catholic organization whose mission is "to walk with the poor and marginalized of the world"; they screen families and facilitate opportunities for sponsors to provide monthly donations which supplement the family's efforts to support themselves.
  • Serving Migrants: Casa Juan Diego in Houston provides a full range of services to those who have left everything to move to the United States in search of work, in the hopes of supporting their families.  Following the inspiration of Dorothy Day--a patroness of migrants whose cause for canonization is underway--, these Catholic Workers take no salary for their service of the poor and rely completely on the generosity of benefactors.
  • Reaching out to Local Families in Need:  Though you likely know a family in your own local community facing heath issues or a financial crisis, some friends of our family have a 19-year-old daughter who was recently diagnosed with AML Leukemia; they have set up a website and an account to help Support Sarah, since she will need to spend 100 days in special housing following her bone marrow transplant (and insurance doesn't cover the cost of the housing).
These opportunities, along with countless others that you might be able to name, allow for opportunities to put into action what the Scriptures clearly express: Whatever we do for the least, we really do for Christ himself (cf. Mt 25:40).  So this New Year, let's continue to look for ways to welcome those "migrant families" in our midst, and let's continue to let the light of Bethlehem shine through us.

After all, our communion with Christ and the Church is best expressed in solidarity with those in need.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us!