We begin this week by remembering those who lost their lives in fires at the Grenfell Tower, London and in Pedrógão Grande, Portugal. We also remember the victims of the terror attack on the Muslim community in Finsbury Park, London. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by these devastating incidents.
Today we mark World Refugee Day. The beautiful prayer on the CRS website calls us to remember that Jesus was born into a family of refugees fleeing violence in their homeland. They sought out shelter in an alien land, imploring, ‘Will you let me in?’ but were turned away by many from behind closed doors with, ‘There is no room.’ There are over 22 million refugees in the world today and half of those come from South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria. More than half of all refugees are children. Over the last few years we have become increasingly aware of the plight of refugees the world over, fleeing violence and war, political oppression and environmental degradation.
Sadly though, there is still a lot of fear and suspicion of the stranger. Like the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, many still want nothing to do with the refugee and the asylum seeker, and walk on by, unaffected by the hurting stranger. Many still ignore the fervent knock on the door seeking shelter. But there are always the ones who welcome the stranger and walk the extra mile with them. We have seen this. We have experienced this. We have only to look at the many people who brave social repercussions to help the refugees getting off inflatable boats; those who provide a drink of water or a bowl of soup, a bag of clothes or a pair of worn sandals, a room to stay in or a place to rest.
The summer solstice is a time to remind ourselves that light triumphs over darkness. It is a time for each of us to recognise the light within us and allow it to shine forth in our love for our neighbour, especially if that neighbour is fleeing violence, war, persecution and oppression.
On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate the intense love that God has for all people. It is the love with which Jesus asked his followers to love each other when he said, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ It is with this same love that we reach out to all in need – to feed the hungry, to give a drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to care for the sick, to visit the imprisoned and to welcome the stranger. The words of the hymn tell us, ‘Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.’
Significant days this week: World Refugee Day (20 June); Summer Solstice (21 June); St Aloysius Gonzaga (21 June); Lailatur Qadr (22 June); The Sacred Heart of Jesus (23 June); Birth of John the Baptist (24 June); Eid-Ul Fitr (25 June)
READ: The Sacred Heart – Loyola Press
WATCH: A refugee journey through the eyes of a 7-year-old Syrian girl
CONSIDER: Pray the Prayer for Refugees