As the crisis next door escalates in magnitude, we Trinis can either choose to bury our heads in the sand or take affirmative action, knowing that ‘when yuh neighbour house on fire, wet yuh own!”.
However, many Trinis do not yet realise that part of that ‘wetting’ might require participation in the Archdiocese’s efforts to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees.
Through the Archdiocese’s proposed establishment of the Ministry for Migrants and Refugees in each parish and ecclesial community, the Church provides a live demonstration of this week’s gospel message which advocates, “if a man loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn 14:23).
Yet the stark reality remains that in undertaking the challenge of making a home for migrants and refugees—a duty that the Catholic Church understands as necessary in its responsibility to be hospitable—several persons in Trinidad and Tobago remain adamant that social disruption is imminent.
These advocates insist that families are being destroyed, cheap labour is exploited, diseases are on the rise, sexual services are more easily accessible and oppressed people continue to be bartered and bought like commodities—mere products of pleasure, profit and target-practice.
Amidst all this, crime prevails, intensified by criminals who demonstrate amongst themselves that the ‘Trini-Vene’ crosscultural co-operation has seemingly not been limited by language or cultural barriers.
While some Trinidadians insist that ‘Venes’ should ‘stay in yuh blasted country’, others who attempt to help migrants ‘make a home’, demonstrate in very practical ways, values that show compassion and respect.
With limited resources at their disposal, some parish communities attempt to meet the needs of migrants and refugees by donating non-perishable grocery items, toiletries etc. Other parishioners take the time to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to migrants.
The wise amongst us who refuse to rush in where angels fear to tread, find it infinitely easier to philosophise on the spiritual aspects of Christ making a home in us, recognising that the attributes of a Christ-centric home is perhaps a prerequisite in helping others make a home.
Christ established that a condition exists for making Himself a home in us, “if a man loves me, he will keep my word”. However, once this condition is met, or attempted, Christ promises that, “my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn 14:23).
When Christ comes to us, what kind of heart will He find in which to make a home in you? Is your heart akin to the simplicity of a hut or will Christ find there a demanding heart, pulsing with ambition? Or perhaps your heart is more practical, a tent solely for rest and reflection whilst you put your hand to the plough?
Will Christ discover that your heart is like a villa in a gated community where you jealously guard your space and distance from others since you enjoy working in a silo, knowing little about your neighbour and restricting entry?
Or maybe, just maybe, yours is a heart of many rooms—a place where the lost, the lonely, the homeless, the hopeless, the migrant and the refugee can find some peace?
Christ transforms whatever kind of heart He finds, into a home. In this way, through the action and gifts of the Holy Spirit, He transforms the world. Through Him, with Him and in Him, by your actions and inactions, by the choices that you make and the chances that you take—the Christ in you can transform refugees into residents and allow migrants to experience miraculous moments.