In his Christmas Message the Minister General writes:

The Saviour of the world arrived among his own but was not accepted, other than by Mary, Joseph, the animals, and the shepherds. The obligation to leave his homeland is an anticipation of all the adversities that he would have to face later. Matthew’s account (cf. Mt 2:13-15) identifies the representatives of political power as the ones who threatened Jesus. However, we all know that politicians of the day are backed up and supported by power groups or even entire societies. These threats to Jesus speak to us of indifference, of distorted fears and of confused forms of selfishness that become a need to invent enemies to fight.

In our time many children are forced to flee their country where their sacred rights are trampled on: their right to a healthy life, a united family, a quality education; the right to grow in a society that welcomes them, offers and demands respect, one that creates opportunities for everyone. All children should be born and grow up in societies that are places of living love, solidarity, co-responsibility, justice and peace. For this to be possible we need to look deeply, filled with humanity. We are called to look at people as they really are: “the image and likeness” of God who created us “for his true and holy love” (cf. RnB 23:1-3).

Unfortunately, many societies of today’s world are not capable of doing this. On the contrary, we see indifference towards the other (cf. EG 54), disguised by empty speeches and totally devoid of any real commitment. Humanity itself that craves progress ends up forgetting about the individual human being, or at best relegates them to the background. The strenuous and exclusive defence of their own interests and benefits by social groups and individuals increases conflicts and leads inevitably towards the conclusion: “I am right, and the other is wrong; I am the friend and the other the enemy; I live in love and the other lives in hate.”

Dear brothers and sisters, it is time to give a human, Christian and Franciscan response to the situation of today’s migrants and refugees. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves whether we really understand what it means to live for years without hope in a refugee camp (as in Kenya, South Sudan and elsewhere). Do we know what it means to stand in front of a wall that prevents people from passing, or in front of a barbed wire fence that proclaims the cruelty and ruthlessness of exclusion, indifference, and self-centredness?

Warmest Christmas greetings to all our friends from the Irish Franciscan Friars.

May the joy of this season fill your hearts and homes