Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy encourages us to focus on Pope Francis’ February prayer intention.
This month is often associated with the love practiced by St. Valentine as the church was just beginning. These 2000-plus years later, we still struggle to bring the love of Jesus into the world we live in. Pope Francis asks us to focus our efforts on this intention: We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal trafficking, may be heard and considered.
What a heart wrenching call to prayer this is as we can literally hear the cries of children on our borders echoing in our ears. We have seen the images of trucks packed with young women being transported as commodities in human trafficking. These violations of human dignity are not happening in far distant lands, but right here in our country. Pope Francis spoke out strongly in a homily of 2013 saying:
“But God asks each one of us: ‘Where is the blood of your brother that cries out to me?’ Today no one in the world feels responsible for this; we have lost the sense of fraternal responsibility; we have fallen into the hypocritical attitude of the priest and of the servant of the altar that Jesus speaks about in the parable of the Good Samaritan: We look upon the brother half dead by the roadside, perhaps we think ‘poor guy,’ and we continue on our way, it’s none of our business; and we feel fine with this. We feel at peace with this, we feel fine! The culture of well-being that makes us think of ourselves, that makes us insensitive to the cries of others, that makes us live in soap bubbles, that are beautiful but are nothing, are illusions of futility, of the transient, that brings indifference to others, that brings even the globalization of indifference. In this world of globalization we have fallen into a globalization of indifference. We are accustomed to the suffering of others, it doesn’t concern us, it’s none of our business.”
The pope is impassioned in his words and pleas. Now what action are we willing to take? First, we heed his call to prayer for these victims and we pray diligently. Beyond our prayer ministry, perhaps the list below will offer some ideas of actions to take.
1. Contact your legislators to voice your opinions about care for immigrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking.
2. Write a letter to the editor voicing your own stance as well as the Church’s position on these issues.
3. Thank local officials who have taken action to support the immigrant population.
4. Help people learn their rights. United We Dream and the National Immigrant Law Center have excellent resources to help immigrants and refugees understand their rights. Work through some of these resources with someone who is not sure of their rights.
5. Learn the indicators of human trafficking.
6. Become an educated and informed consumer by trying to avoid use of products that come from slavery supporting economies.
7. Explore the website ttps://www.state.gov/15-ways-you-can-help-fight-human-trafficking/ to learn more about the issues.
We know that God cannot smile upon policies and actions that harm his children. We read in Leviticus 26:13, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be their slaves no more; I have broken the bars of their yoke and made you walk erect.” These words challenge us to be this same freeing power of God for those oppressed. Let us lend our prayers, words and the actions that we can to this outcry of the forsaken.