“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 this week’s readings, 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?
Joan Rosenhauer is the executive director of Jesuit Refugee Service USA. She serves on the global JRS leadership team, and leads JRS’s efforts to provide pastoral support for people of all faiths in five U.S. detention centers and to mobilize U.S. support for people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes.
Joan Rosenhauer es la directora ejecutiva del Servicio Jesuita de Refugiados (JRS) en los Estados Unidos. Ella lidera los esfuerzos de JRS para dar ayuda pastoral a las personas de toda tradición religiosa en 5 centros de detención en los Estados Unidos, y movilizar la ayuda de los Estados Unidos a personas de todo el mundo que han debido huir de sus hogares.