"We are all migrants, what about you?" Strangers and foreigners on the Earth

"All of us migrants"... My relation to this "affirmation" of Josefa is complex.

I have been walking alongside the Josefa Foundation since the beginning ...

At the time, I rallied what was then only a project, perceiving the opportunity to join others positively concerned with the challenges of migration, constantly questioning in a context of "living together" in the heart of the city of Brussels.

If I attempt to retrace my journey before walking alongside Josefa, migration issues did not concern me. It was rather an issue discussed on the news to which I paid very little attention. As everyone knows, migration flows and their appropriation (recuperation?) by the media have both steadily increased. So I have the feeling of having lived, of living, two experiences intertwined together, constantly contradicting and questioning each other: on the one hand, the experience of an uninformed citizen, impregnated, in spite of myself, with media practices programming us to associate "migration" with death in the Mediterranean, Maximilien Park, a group of well-circumscribed people who are strangers, foreigners, unfortunate, who need help, and, undoubtedly, are generously helped; on the other hand, the Josefa experience constantly questioning certainties. What if we were all migrants? Why talk about "migrants" and not people? What I believe is good for someone else, is it a fair standard? Who receives in the end? In short, by reclaiming our own migrations and respecting the reality of a forced migration, the goal is to have a person-to-person relationship with others, a relationship on equal footing.

As Josefa titillates, "We are all migrants, what about you?", here I am invited to take a step further, that of "what about you?". We are each responsible for reclaiming the reality of our own migration. For my part, I had felt it for some time, drawing from the source of my religious tradition reminds me of this reality of our "migrant being": "We are all travellers; he is a Christian who, even in his home and country, recognizes himself as a traveller." I agree with Saint Augustine’s "All Migrants", an excerpt from a very beautiful book by Jean-Pierre Sonnet (Le chant des montées, Marcher à Bible ouverte, published by Desclée de Brouwer, 2015) and from which I borrow the words to say something about it. This book highlights how much the biblical man, in whom I recognize myself, is basically a being on the move, because "the Bible makes walking the holy environment of the experience of God".

The figures of Adam and the Patriarchs up to Jesus bear witness to this because the First and Second Testaments are a long history of departures.

The first exile, the one of Adam expelled from the garden of Eden (Gen 3.23-24), inaugurates the destiny of the migrant man, every man going through his human existence with "the nostalgia for a lost paradise, the one where he will see his being accomplished".

Following Adam, the patriarchs acknowledged that they were "strangers and foreigners on the earth" (Heb 11.13).

With Abraham, "God engages humanity in the ‘long way’, that of patiently travelled roads and slow learning", tempted as we are by the shortcuts "of the immediate possession of the desired end" (which explains the self-deification in the episode of Babel, betraying a "jealous impatience doing without the learning of otherness, especially of divine otherness").

With Moses, "Israel is born as a people in the traumatic and liberating experience of leaving Egypt". And this exodus is experienced as a journey reorienting an existence towards the absolute of God. With Elijah, what initially was a flight became a homecoming. He returns in the footsteps of Moses, thus extending the founding journeys, and in a "theophany in a low voice, he receives his mission again".

Thus, until Jesus, the founding journeys of the people of the covenant are ongoing. "In the Bible, as in life, walking represents the freest part of mankind, in response to God’s calls, and that which exceeds freedom in the path of an existence", because from the biblical point of view it is not the man who walks who directs his steps (Jer 10.23; Ps 16.11).

Jesus thus gave freely to his existence "the form of an ascent to Jerusalem, which will continue as an elevation on the cross, an ascent, a paschal exodus to the Father".

"Therefore, for Christians, the pilgrimage is no longer made to a place, but in an embodiment in the person of Christ on the move. The "holy place" gives way to the symbolic "milieu" that is the body of the paschal and pilgrim Messiah, completing his course in that of human beings". And this resurrected Messiah is like never before the being on the move. He is forever the one who precedes us and joins us, as he did for the disciples of Emmaus: "Jesus himself came near and went with them" (Lk 24.15). And on this path, Jesus opens the scriptures to them!

The way of the scriptures speaks to me. It tells me about my own life, its flights, its wanderings, crossings, liberating advances, desires for fulfilment, in short, my human condition that is fundamentally migrating. Our most decisive roads are inside of us. In this, I recognize myself in migration.

And of this migrant condition that we all share, "hospitality is the respondent, like the other side of the same experience, greeting in the "passer-by" knocking on the door the condition of all". This is perhaps the gift that is made to us in this forgetful 21st century. From this place, a meeting is possible, from person to person. Yes, as a host to each other, we repeat what we are: "Strangers and foreigners on the earth".