Through the western-facing windows a golden evening sun poured in, illuminating the immense sanctuary fresco of the Virgin and Child. The air inside was alive with the sweet strains and steel-drum accompaniment of the choral and instrumental ensemble. We filtered in from our many different places of origin and seated ourselves in ones and twos and families, all warmly welcomed in the church of Notre-Dame-des-Hongrois.

The occasion that brought us together this evening was the Mass about to be celebrated by Bishop Alain Faubert, marking the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

“Towards An Ever Wider ‘We'” 

The first reading from Numbers 11:25-29 recounted how the Holy Spirit had descended on the seventy elders inside the Tent of the Tabernacle, whereupon they began to prophesy. But a part of the Spirit had meanwhile also descended outside the Tent, inspiring two men in the camp as well. These two, named Eldad and Medad, began to prophesy themselves, which attracted the outrage of one of the chosen men of Moses, and he implored Moses to forbid the two men from prophesying. Moses however answered, ‘Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!’ In the Message of His Holiness for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2021, Pope Francis similarly invites the Church to be ‘‘ready to widen her Tent to embrace everyone.’’

The second reading was taken from James 5:1-6, in which the disciple condemns the complacency of the rich who perpetuate the misery of the workers labouring and perishing, their righteousness and humility scorned in life and death.

The celebration followed in Swahili, after which the prayer of the faithful was offered by an array of persons in a multitude of tongues.Families generously sharing their experiences as migrants, brave people speaking of how they stayed together through such trials in spite of being uprooted, older people who have founded a new existence and a new home here, amazing women and men and dedicated priests who remind us of the good Samaritan, the unclean stranger who broke the rules and helped a fellow man – these are the people with whom we prayed on this important day.

 'no prophet is accepted in his home town' (Luke 4:16-30), Through Eldad amd Medad prophesying at the peripheries and through James preaching against the injustices that we tolerate inside ‘our’ world as we blindly enjoy our creature comforts, the Holy Spirit reveals to us his wisdom of universal brotherhood and justice. Our Catholic Church must recognize this universal brotherhood and must embody this universal justice. As Bishop Alain Faubert concluded his homily, he too, like Moses, called on the entire people of God to be also a people of prophets.
The music played as we filed out into that Sunday night in autumn to ponder how we will put in practice our vocation to become ‘an ever wider We.’