Being truly Christian demands that we provide this hospitality with all of our heart, mind and soul.
I have been privileged to see the staff at CMPC working together in pastoral care, as a real presence of the Church working in the lives of many persons who are from a “multicultural background”. CMPC seems to reflect the “face” of the Church to migrants and refugees (Christian and non- Christian alike) seeking support, hope and accompaniment in their lives, in the area that is covered by the Archdiocese of Brisbane. I have had the opportunity over the last number of years working with migrants and refugees to see how closely CMPC works and networks with the other relevant agencies (government and non-government alike), and how pastoral care is shown to be more than simply “mouthed words”.
There is always a tendency for us to want to understand what does “multiculturalism” really mean? That question will be asked for a very long time and many answers will be espoused. I was first taught that as soon as we speak in “isms” we immediately minimise and restrict a concept to nothing more than a science; to be theorised, defined and contained in manageable boundaries. As human beings we hate to see ourselves “losing control”. It is human nature that we feel that we must give definition and meaning to concepts that, if foreign and unfamiliar, need to be brought into an understanding that suits our lifestyles, our culture and way of life. Once we have defined this concept and contained its meaning in a way that makes sense to us, we are happy to associate ourselves with this concept and to work under its banner and to call it “multiculturalism”. This token participation is far removed from the life of Christ in the Gospel.
We will hear people say that they have formulated a definition that incorporates the totality of the word “multicultural”. Others will say that they have created several definitions that reflect the sum of the totality of this word. There is nothing wrong in doing this and we need to try and understand. However, we tend to overlook the fact that culture comes out of the life, activities and experiences of human beings wherever they may exist and pastoral care is the offering of ourselves in humility to the differences that inevitably arises from this. Every parish, every diocese and every archdiocese throughout the world encounters this phenomenon daily. It has nothing to do with an anthropological study of humanity. It is all about the faith that is Christ, there for all of us to see in the Gospels. Our humble service to, and accompaniment of, the migrant, refugee claimant and refugee in our Church, both local and universal, will be the litmus test to how well we live the Gospel and how we will be judged as Christians.
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me”. Being truly Christian demands that we provide this hospitality with all of our heart, mind and soul. We, as Christians, need to understand that we cannot escape this responsibility. We must embrace it as eagerly as we give it. Christ would ask nothing less from us.