Jesus undertook many journeys during his life. As an unborn child, he went from Nazareth to Bethlehem. As a child refugee, he went to Egypt. As a preacher he travelled the roads of Galilee. His seemingly final journey was to travel up Calvary carrying the heavy wooden beam of a cross.
But what appeared to be the end of Jesus’ journey was really a beginning. By leaving the tomb, Christ shatters the boundaries of what we thought we knew. By rising from the dead, Christ invites us to roll away the stones that are blocking our own hearts and imagination and to share the journey with each other – in particular with the most vulnerable people, such as migrants.
In September 2017, Pope Francis launched our ‘Share the Journey’ campaign and invited us to open our hearts to hope, as that is what drives migrants to leave their lands. It is also in the hearts of those who welcome them. “Hope is the force that drives us “to share the journey”, because the journey is made jointly, by those who come to our land, and by us who go towards their heart, to understand them, to understand their culture, their language”.
Not long after his death, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were full of fear following Jesus’s death. They didn’t recognise Jesus until they sat down for a meal together and he broke bread. How many times in a day do we not recognise Jesus in the people who cross our paths? We may be busy or distracted, or we may be closed in the tomb of our own fears and misconceptions.
But there are specific moments in our lives when we need to be reminded of a fundamental truth: we were given each other so that we would have someone with whom to share our journeys.
A small gesture like reaching out with your arms to somebody else means a lot as it touches different levels of human existence. This is the gesture we are encouraging people to do as part of Share the Journey.
I reach out and if a person feels alone and isolated, my reaching out is a gesture of solidarity. If I reach out and that person is wounded, it could be a sign of healing. If I reach out and the person is lost, it could mean an offer of guidance. If I reach out and the person feels like nobody cares, then it will be a sign of friendship. That small gesture means different things in different stages of people’s life journey.
Christ performed the ultimate gesture of reaching out to others on the cross. He opened his arms and emptied himself out to receive God’s will.
We do not necessarily need to do extraordinary and extravagant things to make a difference in the lives of people. Small gestures, ordinary gestures, when done with sincerity, with the light of human understanding and compassion, can do extraordinary things.
We invite you all to join us in making small gestures of compassion towards the migrants you meet on your daily journeys. We invite you to see Jesus in the migrant and in yourself.
In the week of the 17-24th June 2018, we will hold a global week of action for Share the Journey. You can join Caritas organisations and migrants around the world in the activities we organise that week. In particular, like Jesus and the disciples in Emmaus, we invite you to share a meal with migrants as a reminder of our unity as one global family and of our need for each other.
We hope that through these small actions of understanding and communion, we create a wave of global solidarity which rolls away the stones which are blocking us and takes us on a journey which ignites our imagination. By harnessing our collective global energies – migrants, refugees and communities together – we will set the world on fire with God’s love.
– Card. Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and President of Caritas International