This Congolese woman and her four children were detained for five months before being released to live in an “open center” on Malta. (Alexandra Pace/UNHCR)
All: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Then Simeon said to Mary, "You yourself a sword will pierce, so that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed." (Luke 2:35)
Every year, thousands of asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants flock to Malta, a small island off the coast of Italy. These travelers face challenges ranging from forced detention to lack of access to social services. In a reflection, Katrine Camilleri, formerly of JRS Malta states:
"Asylum seekers in Malta are detained for long months in very tough conditions. As a lawyer, I offer them information, advice, and legal assistance and I lobby for improved protection procedures.
"My work … has brought home the painful realization that often there is little or nothing I can do to ease detainees’ suffering. This is hard to accept, so hard that at times I am tempted to give up, to turn away from the pain and to live more comfortably.
"Often, the only thing that keeps me going is the image of Mary at the foot of the cross. I am sure she must have been dying to tear Jesus off the cross, to do something for him, but she was helpless. The only thing she could do was to be there, so there she stayed, although it must have been the most difficult thing she ever had to do.
"Like Mary, being there is often all I can offer, and I have realized that this presence is precious. More than that, it is a source of many blessings. Just as streams of living water flowed from the cross of Christ, the detainees have been a never-ending source of enrichment for me."
Lord, grant us the strength to recognize our limitations and the courage to offer our humbled presence to our brothers and sisters in need.
All: Our Father.