I HAVE found it both astonishing and heartbreaking to read about the recent protests held across our island claiming 'Ireland is Full.'

I am not sure that we truly appreciate the life and the story of families who have had to flee from their homeland due to war, threats, poverty, lack of justice and so on. There is no doubt that we are living during a time of unprecedented disparity between those who have and those who have not, the rich and the poor, the housed and unhoused, the privileged and the unprivileged, those who have a country to call home and those who don't, the safe and the unsafe.

I remember reading this following quote: "You can only stand from where you sit," reminding us that we can  never truly understand anyone's story unless we make the effort to get out of our comfort zones and sit in the seats of others. Virtues such as compassion, grace, acceptance, generosity and hospitality cannot be forced on others; such traits are only fuelled by a love for our neighbour whatever their background, race,  or religion.

My faith reminds me that Jesus was a refugee and I believe that it is in the most distressed, disregarded, excluded and ignored people where we find Jesus today. Jesus Himself said: "When you welcome the stranger, you welcome me... whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me."

People of faith are reminded that all refugees are created in the image of God and what we do to the least of these, we do to Christ. We cannot gather in our churches and worship Jesus (a refugee) every Sunday, while ignoring the refugees on our doorstep the other days of the week.

I am thankful to those who turned out in their thousands last weekend to send an alternative message that 'Ireland is for all' and 'Refugees are welcome.' May love win over hate.