Man, particularly if he is weak, defenceless, driven to the margins of society, is a sacrament of Christ’s presence (cf. Mt 25:40, 45). “But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed” (Jn 7:49), was how the Pharisees judged those whom Jesus had helped even beyond the limits established by their precepts. Indeed, he came to seek and to save the lost (cf. Lk 19:10), to bring back the excluded, the abandoned, those rejected by society.

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35). It is the Church’s task not only to present constantly the Lord’s teaching of faith but also to indicate its appropriate application to the various situations which the changing times continue to create. Today the illegal migrant comes before us like that “stranger” in whom Jesus asks to be recognized. To welcome him and to show him solidarity is a duty of hospitality and fidelity to Christian identity itself.

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Pope St. John Paul II

Message for World Migration Day, 1996

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