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JRS Online Retreat: Day 26 – Rejoicing as Refugees Find a Home
Friday, November 26, 2010

"As Christians we are called to manifest God's all-inclusive love … we should be attentive to the needs of immigrants and asylum seekers in our midst… That is the noble vocation of love and service that we have all received."

As you begin your prayer today, remember that you are in God’s holy presence. Become aware of how God gazes on you all the time, how tenderly and powerfully God regards you. Ask God for what you want in prayer:

Ask the Father to draw you into a deep experience of the Risen Jesus who will call you to a life of deeper compassion.

Reflections for Prayer

Br. Stephen Power, S.J.
Former JRS Assistant International Director and JRS Country Director, Ethiopia

London, 26 November 2010 – Many Eritreans have had a long and painful experience of war, famine and exile. Soon after starting work with Jesuit Refugee Service, I made several friends from this community who had been forced into diaspora but later found new homes. First, a year before the war ended, a couple living in Port Sudan, Gereskiel and Letenkiel, were accepted for resettlement in the United States with their young daughter. Having lost three other children to malaria in Sudan, we happily celebrated the departure with them at the airport as they left for a safe place. 

A second fond memory is that of travelling to the capital city, Asmara, at the end of the independence war. For many refugees the lost home had become their “Jerusalem,” constantly longed for in exile. So it was with Asmara, the city up in the mountains. We returned home with Teclu, who went on to Tigray in search of his father, from whom he had received no news for twelve years. More than the joy of returning to his homeland, the occasion of finding his father was the crowning experience of that new beginning. 

Finally, I think of a person I still have contact with in Khartoum, Sofia, who has made her home in Sudan as her adopted country even though her other relatives are scattered to the United Kingdom, Germany and back in Eritrea.

Thankfully, there are many places where refugees have found new homes, new beginnings, and some of them are technically called the ‘durable solutions’ that UNHCR seek for all refugees: finding a place of resettlement, returning home or being able to integrate in the local country of residence.  JRS staff who are not refugees working in isolated parts of the world can also identify with the joy and peace of getting home again after hard work done.

The risen Lord is calling each one of us to that place where our fears are ended; where he himself, having gone beyond pain and death, calls us, with our brothers and sisters, to the deep consolation of being safe at home. Pray for the grace to experience the deep joy of his call to come to the comfort of home; the grace to realize that we, as pilgrims, meet Jesus often unrecognized in our daily lives and are called to a future meeting with him face-to-face when we arrive finally home at the end of our lives.  Speak to him about his joyful plans for you — plans for your welfare and not for harm (Jeremiah 29:11).

Address God as a friend speaks to a friend. 

Talk to God about your response, your own needs and your deepest desires.

End your prayer with the Our Father, the prayer Jesus taught us.

Suggested Reading for Prayer

Jeremiah 29:11-14

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the LORD, and I will change your lot. I will gather you together from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you, says the LORD, and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.


"As Christians we are called to manifest God's all-inclusive love. So we should seek out the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized … we should be attentive to the needs of immigrants and asylum seekers in our midst… That is the noble vocation of love and service that we have all received. Let it inspire you to dedicate your lives to following Christ." ~ Pope Benedict XVI