Third Sunday of Lent: Remembering Our Gospel Call
BY JOAN ROSENHAUER | March 12, 2023
During a recent trip to Colombia, I visited a community built by refugees from Venezuela. When the economy and security situation in Venezuela collapsed, they lost what little they had and, fearing for their safety, fled to Colombia. There they found land to build make-shift homes. Like many displaced people, they had to take the land no one else wants and found it on a steep hillside, an area no one else thought suitable for building. I was amazed at the homes they had built going up the hillside and the walkways and drainage canals they had created. They had even bigger plans for the future, with impressive drawings of a finished drainage system, a community kitchen, and a chapel. Their hope, faith, and perseverance were inspiring.
Despite the Gospel call to love our neighbors and reach out to “others” like Jesus did to the Samaritan woman, it is often too easy to harden our hearts and forget those who are struggling. The economic and security crisis facing Venezuelans was a major headline a few years ago. Today, they are largely forgotten, replaced by other crises and challenges in our world. The suffering and chaos in our world can cause us to become numb. But we can find God in the chaos in the hope and perseverance of those who are struggling. And we can help them through both prayer and action. As our government’s policies add to the troubles of Venezuelans and so many others by denying them a chance to come to the U.S. to seek safety and rebuild their lives, we can help. The question for us is—will we harden our hearts or remain focused on those in greatest need, making their voices heard and working to make the U.S. a more welcoming country?
- How are you being called to take action to make the U.S. a more welcoming country, to not forget those in our world who are struggling?
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.
Every small bit may help lessen someone’s pain. I’ve been the recipient of a simple, “I hope your day gets better” from someone at a coffee shop when she could tell I was in distress and I will tell you that I will never forget those kind words.
For my part, I try to do what I can. Treat strangers with a smile, give generously, view all humans as children of God.
What look as my monthly giving and I don’t see refugees represented other that indirectly through Doctors Without Borders. I know my local refugee centers/support groups that we currently help with time and want to start to help with periodic funds. Who are you-all’s favorite national 0rganizations the are providing the most benefit. Love & Prayers
Trying and complex times. I resonate with today’s challenge to love our neighbors from south and central America. How discouraging it must be to come from such corrupt homelands. Yet just as challenging is the welcoming of them to the USA. How can our systems bear the weight of outreach needed to sustain any and all who come without a great price inflicted upon our society, culture, and systems in place? We fear that this much demand will break these precious elements all housed under the banner of freedom. Until we answer these concerns our country will continue to be divided.
What an inspiring story!
Let us support the people where they are and not promote the western life as superior to everyone else.
Refugees who have come to Europe from war torn countries, often return to their homeland if they still can, because to be with family and have God at the centre of their lives is more important than slaving away to pay exorbitant rents and not have enough time with one’s own children, let alone parents, grandparents and extended family back in their homeland.
What a different world we would live in if everyone put God first and family first in their life. I think we would all be a lot happier.
In Canada, during Lent our parishes support Development and Peace financially. They partner with action committees in South America to support the land.
I feel so blessed to be a part of my parish’s Circle of Welcome, 9 of us who since December of 2021 have been assisting an Afghan refugee family living here in our city. It’s a beautiful Muslim family of Mom, Dad, and 9 children here in the U.S…. Dad worked for over 15 years for the U.S. military in Afghanistan before the family was forced to flee. They have another 3 adult children who are married and have children who remain in Afghanistan. We have become one family–inspiring each other and teaching each other to see and honor a bigger, more inclusive God… They open my eyes just as the Samaritan woman’s interaction with Jesus opened the minds and hearts of the apostles.
In response to Joyce’s question, I trust the UN High Commission for Refugees, the International Rescue Committee, and Save the Children… among many others. As Jesus and the apostles had to learn to break down barriers between Jew and Gentile, Galilean and Samaritan, Greek and Roman, etc., so we, too, have to recognize that God’s people have no borders; we are truly called to be ONE BODY and find our primary citizenship in God…
As a member of Network Lobby, we are writing this week to President Biden concerning his plans for asylum and immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. Consider writing through network.org to add to the citizen input that President Biden needs.
When I was a stranger and homeless – you welcomed me, says the Lord.