It is not just about migrants, it’s also about our humanity

“It’s not just about migrants”. With these words from the video shown before Mass still ringing in their ears, the congregation rose to their feet to sing the entrance hymn at the 9.00am Mass at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) Sept 22.

Oct 13, 2019

By Ng Wai Queen
“It’s not just about migrants”. With these words from the video shown before Mass still ringing in their ears, the congregation rose to their feet to sing the entrance hymn at the 9.00am Mass at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) Sept 22. It was the day the parish celebrated Migrant Sunday and the theme chosen for the celebration, It’s not just about migrants, aligned with the focus of Pope Francis’ message for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2019.

In his message, the Holy Father explained that it is not just about migrants but about all of us because “through them, the Lord invites us to embrace fully our Christian life and to contribute, each according to his or her proper vocation, to the building up of a world that is more and more in accordance with God’s plan.”.

The readings for the day were perfect. In the first reading (Amos 8:4-7), Amos spoke up against the exploitation of the weak by the powerful because some wealthy members of the tribe of Israel were taking advantage of the poor and cheating them.

In the 2nd reading (1 Tm 2:1-8), Paul reminded Timothy that the Gospel was to be taken to all people, no one was to be excluded.

In expounding the Gospel reading (Luke 16:1-13), parish priest Fr Martin Arlando advised the parishioners to set the right priorities for themselves, for example, by acquiring earthly wealth through moral and legal means. This includes not exploiting or oppressing others.

Fr Martin ended his homily with a reminder that all of us, including the migrants in our midst, are one family in God. Therefore, we are responsible for each other and must take care of one another as members of the family of God.

At the end of the Mass, Tami, a parishioner from Indonesia, recited a poem entitled “Tenaga Kerja Indonesia” which was composed by her fellow Indonesian in Penang, Masni Elisabeth. Although dedicated to Indonesian migrant workers, the poem applied to migrant workers of all nationalities in Malaysia. The congregation listened with rapt attention. Some were visibly moved. Tami then joined a group of her friends from Indonesia to perform a joyful dance in thanksgiving to God. Fr Martin then invited all the migrants in the congregation to the front for a special blessing. He thanked them for being a part of the CDM family and giving local parishioners the opportunity to serve them. For in serving them, we serve the kingdom of God.

After Mass, the congregation waited patiently in line to venerate the relic of St Maximilian Kolbe. This first class relic, consisting of some hair from the saint’s head, was recently granted to CDM by the Friars Minor Conventual (Franciscan Fathers) of the Niepokalanów Friary in Poland. The relic is the latest addition to the collection of Polish relics at CDM, the others being the relics of St John Paul II, St Maria Faustina Kowalska and Blessed Fr Michael Sopo?ko.
Meanwhile, in the Faustina Hall, tables and chairs had been set up in readiness for the coffee morning in conjunction with Migrant Sunday. The fundraiser, organised by the parish Migrant Ministry in aid of the Free Learning Centre and Community Hall, featured the national dishes of Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia. The dishes were all sponsored and cooked by CDM’s migrant parishioners. On sale were Vietnamese spring rolls, Pakistan-style briyani rice, semolina fufu with egusi soup from Nigeria, Indonesian mee gomak, a variety of Filipino cakes, and the Indian breakfast favourite, idli with coconut chutney. Sales were brisk as parishioners turned up in full force to support the event. It was heartwarming to see migrants and locals working side by side, helping each other to serve the customers and having a good time together. One parishioner commented on how touched she had been by the poem recited by Tami and asked for a copy. The first reading, proclaimed in Sinhalese by John Fernando, and the second reading, proclaimed in Vietnamese by Peter Tran, made impressions too, as some in the congregation felt a sense of calm listening to the Word of the Lord even as their eyes followed the English translation.

Karen, a Penangite, commented that she felt very proud and blessed to see so many people from different cultures celebrating the Sacred Liturgy together. In fact, a number of people said that they were happy to see the cultural diversity in the parish. Asher and Sunny, both from Pakistan, said that they were very excited to cook a dish for the event as members of the parish family. Everyone was extremely impressed by the wide variety of delicious, home-cooked dishes that were available. A big Thank you, Terima kasih, Salamat, C?m ?n b?n, Shukriya, to the organisers, the cooks and all who contributed to making this a successful event.

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