Week 1: Mission as hospitality
Jesus came into the world seeking hospitality. Those who welcomed him discovered quickly that he was the host offering them an experience of God’s boundless hospitality. To share in the mission of Jesus means inviting people to sit as brothers and sisters at God’s table where no one is excluded.
Christian hospitality means offering people space where they can discover that they are loved unconditionally by God and are valued with their personal, cultural and religious differences. Hospitality provides the opportunity for people to find their God, respond to their own calling, and live out of their best selves.
Every time we celebrate the Eucharist together we respond to Jesus’ invitation to experience the ongoing hospitality of God. But we also hear the call to be channels of God’s hospitality by building open, hospitable communities, where the marginalized and excluded ones in our world find a special welcome.
Tom O’Reilly (Pakistan, Ireland, Britain)
Reflect: Consider whom you have welcomed to your home in recent months. Have you offered hospitality to anyone who could be described as being on the margins of mainstream society? How far does your parish welcome strangers, such as asylum seekers?
Week 2: Journey of hope
Immigration has never been a popular subject because it implies separation, loss and change. Both the immigrant and those at home are left with memories. There is always the hope of return but for many this is seldom realised. For those who do return to what they think of as ‘home’, often it doesn’t feel like home any-more and the readjustment is almost as difficult as the going away.
Those left behind don’t always understand the experience of the immigrant, and the immigrant probably doesn’t fully grasp that those left behind experience similar loneliness and isolation. Unless experiences are shared, both sides in the immigration saga will never really be part of each other’s journey. Ultimately, immigration is the human heart on a journey of hope.
Bobby Gilmore (Philippines, Jamaica, Ireland
Reflect: What are your own experiences of migration? Can you think of any migration stories in the Bible? What can we learn from them?
Week 3: Body of Christ
“You may be the only Bible that someone will ever read”. That challenging phrase comes from Latin America. It points out to us the reality of our incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Word Event of God whom the Father sent because God so loved the world (Jn 3.16). Through our Baptism we are God’s word and sacred text incarnate. We are church, community and corporate body sent into the world to announce and make flesh the Good News of liberation, of unbinding, of healing and of never-ending Jubilee.
Christ has called us friends because he shared everything God shared with him. As friends we try to support and challenge each other in the Spirit who guides and strengthens us. As community we are immersed in a world disfigured by personal and structural sin whose gods are: power which abuses the vulnerable, accumulation of wealth which exploits the weak, and domination which excludes those without voice.
Frank Regan (Peru, Britain)
Reflect: “You may be the only Bible that someone will ever read”. How do these words challenge us?
Week 4: Building trust
As a Christian in the Southern Philippines I have come to appreciate the faith of Islam, and the aspirations of Muslims for peace and self-determination. Our Muslim friends have also come to appreciate our faith and aspirations as Christians. As members of different World Religions we have tried to establish a deep sense of communion with each other while at the same time delighting in the differences. One of our members put it aptly when he said, “Muslims and Christians here in Mindanao are like people with only one house to live in; we have to find a way to live together peacefully in that house.”
We are convinced that the only way forward is by promoting dialogue, understanding, reconciliation and peace between the two communities. The future should be determined not by militarisation and terrorism but by the growing consensus for peace and development. Militarization brings division, encouraging us to look on one another as enemies rather than brothers and sisters
Des Hartford (Philippines)