“What would you do?”
I’ve been asked that question many times by parents who have concluded that they must find a safer place for their children even if it means experiencing the trauma of fleeing their homes.
I recently met a mother and her two little boys from Syria who were in their home when bombs started falling nearby. She grabbed her children and fled with almost nothing. After the kind of harrowing trek that horrifies us when we hear about it on the news, they found their way to Beirut, Lebanon, where Jesuit Refugee Service provides support for families, including supplemental education and psychosocial support programs to help traumatized children adjust and thrive in school. These are children who desperately need our help if they are to overcome their pain and help build a future filled with peace and justice, things they have hardly experienced in their young lives.
In readings this Sunday, we are reminded in so many ways of God’s infinite love for us. He rescues the Israelites from Egypt and gives them food. He is the father who joyfully welcomes his prodigal son home. He is the model for a parent’s love, including the millions of parents around the world who make the difficult choice to uproot their children and take them to a safer place despite a dangerous journey and an unknown future.
It is heartbreaking to hear the stories of refugees and what they faced that led them to flee. If, as we hear in the second reading, we are to be “ambassadors for Christ,” how can we turn our back on these families, especially the children? What will their future—and ours—be if we don’t help them overcome their trauma and build a more hopeful future for themselves and their societies?
This reflection is also part JRS/USA’s Lenten campaign to #PrayFastGive4Refugees. we’re asking our supporters and friends to consider the Three Pillars of Lenten Observance – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – as three calls to action for refugees. These three actions, like the mission of Jesuit Refugee Service – accompany, advocate, serve – are ways in which we can dedicate ourselves to our displaced brothers and sisters around the world. Click here to learn more.