Father Frank Brennan
“It is not just about migrants”.
Reflection for Migrant and Refugee Sunday, 25 August 2019

At our national borders, we expect our political leaders to maintain security and order while admitting migrants and refugees in generous and manageable numbers. …

We all have the right to determine who enters our homes and who dines at our tables. We have the right to determine who enters our country and who is allowed to settle here permanently. We cannot provide a place for every person in need. But we have a responsibility to provide peace and security for some of those people in our world who suffer most.

But we Australians have to play our part.

Australia has long been a country of migrants who together with the First Australians have extended a welcome to those coming to our shores seeking a better life. We have profited and benefited from this large-scale immigration.

Just before Christmas last year, [Christian leaders] asked our politicians to end to the intolerable situation on Nauru and Manus Island endured by asylum- seekers whose plight continues to be our responsibility. Catholic bishops said we cannot use the refugee issue as a political football. Let’s find them a home. After the past election we have still not found these refugees a home.

Pope Francis reflected:
‘In some host countries, migration causes fear and alarm, often fomented and exploited for political ends. This can lead to a xenophobic mentality,
as people close in on themselves, and this needs to be addressed decisively’.

Wealthy secure countries like ours have closed their doors too firmly on those suffering greatly.

For this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis has insisted:
‘It is not just about migrants’. How we welcome migrants and refugees affects all of us and helps to shape the sort of society we want to be, and the sort of people we want to be. We cannot establish God’s kingdom here and now, but we can do more to make our homes, our local community, and our nation more welcoming to those who come to our shores. Living on an island nation continent, it is easy for us Australians simply to put out of mind those fleeing persecution, those who no longer have a place to call home.

… let’s open our hearts and take some extra practical steps individually and collectively to provide a home for those who deserve more than the closed door of our fear and isolation. Let’s always call to mind what it would be like for us if we were on the other side of the door, knocking, or if we were on the other side of the national border, pleading. Remember, in the kingdom of God ‘some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last’.