Be Merciful: Crisis in Ukraine

BY JOSH UTTER | March 14, 2022
Today’s Readings

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? 

Be Merciful, Ukraine

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.

10 replies
  1. Steve Barnett
    Steve Barnett says:

    There is no need or priority or distraction more important at this time in our lives than standing in solidarity with Ukraine. Historically, it feels like the most important priority in my life. The Pope’s comic strip the other day identified the importance off environmental stewardship but chose blue (for the sky) and yellow (for the wheat fields) to first save Ukraine and then we can save the planet with blue and yellow which makes green. Caring for those in need is the good Samaritan commission God has given to us. Between journalists and social technology, it is clear to us and we cannot or should not ignore that the foremost need before us today is supporting our brothers and sisters in war. We should encourage one another to do whatever we can. Thank you for specially and additionally focusing our prayers, donations, and attention on the war with Josh Utter’s supplemental Lenten reflection,

  2. Sr. Mary Angela Murdaugh
    Sr. Mary Angela Murdaugh says:

    In matters of the spirit there are no boundaries or fences. I will not complain about any higher cost or shortages and accept them as what I can do to stand with refugees–from any oppression. The anguish I feel and tears that spring to my eyes as I learn of tragic situations being endured by other human beings leads me to know I, too, have to lean back on Christ with my ear very close to His Heart. There is where I will learn how to always have a loving response.

  3. Betty
    Betty says:

    The focus of each of these reflexions is on a world that seems to be getting much worse with each passing day, and I understand the temptation to despair. What keeps me going, particularly during this season of Lent, is that when I find myself heading in the direction of despair, I redirect my thoughts to the suffering of Christ, and the many challenges faced by others throughout the world today. I seek solidarity with this suffering, and remind myself of the many blessings I’ve received throughout my 79 years. This “reset”, prayer, and the resources to make much needed donations keep me on a steady, but rocky path.

  4. Karen Moscato
    Karen Moscato says:

    My heart aches over the utter destruction of Ukraine. My prayers each morning and night are for her peace and the stoppage of this insane war on the part of Putin.
    I know our prayers will be answered; but in the meantime we must do our part to support and help these people of God. I stand with Ukraine.

  5. Jose-Louis
    Jose-Louis says:

    Thank you for mentioning the suffering of ours sister and brothers in Ukraine. I believe it is also important to pray for Patrarch Kirill of Moscow head of the Russian Orthodox Church, asking God to send him the Lights of the Holy Spirit, to open his ears, his mind and his soul, to listen all the others International Religious Leaders, incluiding Pope Francis and ask to the Russian leaders to stop the criminal war and to stop the sacrifice of inocent children, women and men from a free Country as Ukraine. And to do as true religious leaders who they must be and they use the name of God and Jesus in their preaching, to pray they follow the real Jesus steps, to be messengers of the Peace and not of war. To ask the Ortodox Religious leader stop following the orders of a dictator, who doesn’t care about the suffering.of the others but his only interest and his own criminal political dictator ideas, his personal agenda. I pray each day for the Leaders and Heros of Ukraine, and all the people who is suffering and fighting for the freedom of theirs own Land: Ukraine and I also pray for Patriarch Kirill to listen to the other brothers and sisters in Christ. The last part it is very difficult.for me being a LGTB’s person, who suffered persecution by the church and we are accuse of the all the bad things that happens in the World, by Kirill and other pseudo christian leaders in the World and our free country which is USA .

    • Steve Barnett
      Steve Barnett says:

      Loving our enemies and blessing those who persecute us is hard. As I twilighted this morning, I tried praying for the supporters of this war. I was too hurt in myself to do that but accepted that the Holy Spirit and Jesus in me could do what I can not do. I prayed blessings for Patriarch Kirill, Vladimir Putin, Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump, and those many who see the world differently than I do. We may not agree but, in Christ, we can respect and love one another.

  6. Dr Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    Even though the war action is thousands of miles away, it affects all members of the Body of Christ. My two grandchildren and I were watching the news which showed the devastation to hospitals and parents with children, the two girls 7 and 3 started to cry at the evil that was happening in front of them. We turned off the news and said a prayer for all the people in Ukraine and in Russia. May the world realize that peace needs to be received by all and that war is not the answer to any of the maladies of others. We ask Mother Mary and her Son, Jesus Christ to relieve all of us from the horrible tragedies of war. May the people of Ukraine and Russia receive the food and supplies they need to live the life God wills for us.

  7. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    “I appeal for cessation of hostilities, not because you are too exhausted to fight, but because war is bad in essence” – Mahatma Gandhi

  8. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    Thinking of all the large seminaries and retreat houses that now stand empty in the Hudson Valley, I wonder if there is a similar situation in Europe and that these buildings could be opened to shelter refugees.


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