(Vatican Radio) The World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated on Sunday 17th January 2016. Pope Francis' message to mark the day was released in October 2015. Based on the theme, “Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us. The Response of the Gospel of Mercy”, the Holy Father recalls what he said in the Bull of indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus; that is, “at times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives.”
He points out that migration continue to grow worldwide as more and more refugees are fleeing from their homes. Although this can challenge traditional ways of life, Pope Francis urges people not to take the suffering of others for granted.
“Today, more than in the past,” he says, “the Gospel of mercy troubles our consciences.” He added that migration movements are now a structural reality, and the priority at this time must be to provide programmes which address the causes of migration and the changes it entails, including its effect on the makeup of societies and peoples.
In a desperate plea for justice, Pope Francis reminds us that migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, one in which poverty, hunger and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources is overcome.
Concerning some of the challenges that migrants and refugees face, he said that they must change some of their most distinctive characteristics and, whether they like it or not, those who welcome them are forced to change too. This challenge to the societies who welcome them must be overcome in order to prevent the danger of discrimination or extreme nationalism.
Referring to the Bible, the Holy Father reminds us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome God, and that in the faces of others we see the face of Christ. As such, he stresses that the Church cannot fail to be inspired to action and to the realisation that the response to the Gospel is mercy.
Pope Francis concludes by imparting on all migrants and refugees an Apostolic blessing, and by pleading with them, that they do not allow themselves to be robbed of the hope and joy of life born of an experience of God’s mercy, as manifested in the people they meet on their journey.
Click here to read the Pope’s Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.