Editor’s Note: This is a supplemental reflection to ISN’s daily Lenten series, Harden Not Your Hearts: A Lenten Journey in Holy Frustration, in addition to today’s reflection from Emily Kane. ISN asked Josh Utter, outreach director for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, to reflection on today’s readings in light of the current war being raged in Ukraine, particularly on the experiences of those fleeing their homes. You can read more from the series and subscribe for free here.
I often take it for granted—the comfort of being at home. It takes work to maintain it—scrubbing, dusting, sweeping, repairing—but it is a refuge, a place of rest and hospitality. As I survey my surroundings, I recognize in gratitude the hands of many who helped make this corner of the world my sanctuary.
I cannot imagine what it feels like to leave it all behind when the threat of violence and conflict forces one to flee for safety. For some, that choice is near impossible, as so many years passed by watching the seasons change or the trees and the children grow from one’s window. How can one simply leave it all behind in an instant, when the weight of the memories keeps one firmly rooted to that holy ground?
Since February, more than 2 million people have fled Ukraine, leaving their homes and, in some cases, their loved ones behind. It is no easy journey, and it takes time to process the gravity of such a departure. Hearts are still pulled towards the home left behind.
The psalms are the voice of a people in exile, crying out for mercy in times of war and displacement. Let us pray the words of today’s psalm, “help us, O God our savior,” please do not forget your people, in Ukraine and beyond, and deliver them to safety. “Be merciful” and may we from the comfort of our own homes show that mercy to those in need of shelter and rest.
“For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” May we not be sparing in our hospitality to those who are fleeing conflict and violence, no matter where they are coming from geographically, as we are not to be the judges. Rather, we are called to be hosts, for the measure of our hospitality reflects what we someday hope to receive.
Josh Utter is originally from Madison, WI, and a graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, IA. Based in Phoenix, AZ, Josh is the outreach officer for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.