You shall answer and say before the Lord your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number…\’ (Deuteronomy 26:5)
People have always been migrants, for one reason or another. Although we manage to settle in one place for a time, we usually end up on the move again. In the United States, this is usually a voluntary choice: a decision to go elsewhere to find a better job, good weather, a safer neighborhood. But you can look at any newspaper or Internet news site to see that Americans are privileged. The majority of the world\’s migrants are on the move because they have to go. It\’s a question of life or death. They are getting away from religious fanatics, drug cartels, oppression by the government, and general lawlessness. They leave home, often with only the clothes on their backs, and they journey to an unknown destination.
When you read the Bible, you find that it is primarily about people moving around. Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden. Abraham was called to live in a faraway country called Canaan. Moses led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. During the time of Jeremiah the prophet, the people were systematically rounded up and taken by force to Babylon. And, of course, the story most of us know best: the journey of Mary and Joseph away from their home in Nazareth to be enrolled in the census in Bethlehem, and then their flight into Egypt to escape Herod\’s murderous plans.
Pope Francis has added this title, Solace of Migrants, to the Litany of Loreto in order to remind us. Not just of the past, although that is essential. But we must also remember that nothing in life is ever stable. Even a hurricane or tornado can force people to migrate. They see their homes and lives completely ruined, and all they can do is try to start over.
A Christian writer once suggested that a creed for Christians that begins, \”My father was a wandering Aramean…\” might be more meaningful than the creeds we recite during Mass on Sundays. Although we don\’t think this should be an actual practice, she makes a good point. All of us are, in a sense, wandering Arameans. We are separated from God, and we spend our lives searching for Him. We are strangers and sojourners on this earth, and our true home is in Heaven.
Holy Mary, Solace of Migrants, pray for us!