Lenten Reflections: Seven last words, seven acts

The Seven Last Words is a devotion that reflects on the sayings of Jesus of Nazareth as he was crucified. Traditionally prayed during Lent, the Seven Last Words allow the faithful a means of meditating on and identifying with Christ’s suffering and passion.

Franciscans International offers a contemporary take on this Lenten tradition, reflecting on Jesus’ last words through the lens of migration. Like Jesus of Nazareth, who endured dehumanizing cruelty, many migrants and refugees today experience dehumanization as a result of violence and poverty, unjust laws and inadequate immigration policies, xenophobia, racism, and a myriad of other causes. 2017 saw international migration at an all-time high, with an estimated 258 million people living in a country other than their country of birth (United Nations, Migration Report 2017).

Pope Francis, who has expressed “particular concern for the forced nature of many contemporary migratory movements,” has called for “a coordinated and effective response to these challenges” (Forum on Migration and Peace 2017). His vision, which can “be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”, invites people of faith to respond to issue of migration in a just, compassionate, and comprehensive way.

Similarly, the United Nations has begun the process of crafting a Global Compact on Safe and Orderly Migration, which aims to be the first inter-governmental agreement that will address international migration. Various actors, including non-governmental organizations such as Franciscans International, are currently working to ensure that this Global Compact includes a holistic, rights-based approach to migration.

By meditating on the passion of Christ through the lens of migration, we can engage in a deep, spiritual reflection on the realities faced by so many of our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters and can begin to consider responses to this burning issue.

The Seven Acts proposed here, which are inspired by the Holy See’s statement, “Responding to Refugees and Migrants: Twenty Action Points, and Now and How, Ten Acts for the Global Compact,” from civil society, distills seven everyday actions that all people of faith and good will can to do to support and uphold the dignity and human rights of our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters.