Deidre Cornell lived in Mexico for three years as a Maryknoll missioner and has worked for many years with migrant workers in upstate New York. At the outset, she points out that the Judeo-Christian tradition "holds a rich treasury of memories in which the journey of God's Chosen People is shaped by individual and collective migrations. Jesus belonged to these people and his first followers were called 'people of the way.' "
Today human mobility is a global phenomenon with millions of refugees escaping to safety or seeking to find better paying jobs. Before he was even born, Jesus was on the move with Mary and Joseph, all of them strangers in a strange land. In Matthew 8:20, we read: "And Jesus said … Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
Jesus is right in sync with millions of migrants who have no real home and are often treated like unwanted guests. Many Catholics hold a Los Posadas celebration on the farms in the wine country where this nine-day celebration symbolizes Mary and Joseph's harrowing journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their search for shelter.
Cornell salutes Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, and Mother Teresa for their unstinting service of immigrants. She closes with a meditation on all of us as migrants, crossing boundaries, trying to overcome persecution, and rejoicing when someone takes us in, even though we are strangers. When this happens, the gospel of justice and peace is revived.