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June-World Refugee Day

Psalm 137: 1-4 (NIV)

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?

Reflection-Volunteer Coordinator Teresa Undurraga 

World Refugee Day seeks to make the invisible reality of millions of refugees around the world visible for one day. According to UNHCR, 68.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict, persecution, poverty and natural disasters.

Last year I visited South Africa to see the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service with urban refugees in Johannesburg. I had the opportunity to visit refugees in their homes, to speak with them about their lives in South Africa and in the countries they left behind. This was hard for me, it was hard to see the fear, the uncertainty and the feeling of powerlessness over a system that has failed for them. At the same time, I saw so many signs of strength and faith, and a desire to start again. This helped me to see the faces behind the refugee crises, to look at individuals who deserve an opportunity to start a better life and to be respected for who they are.

Today let us pray for all those who have been forced to leave their homes so that they can find a welcoming place to rebuild their lives with dignity.

Lord, God and Father,

who loves ALL of humankind, bring your mercy and healing to our brothers and sisters who have left their homes because of war, poverty and injustice. Teach us to bring your welcome to everyone who seeks haven and home. Give us the generosity of spirit that focuses not on our greed, but on the immense need of families and individuals who risk everything to make a new beginning and seek refuge in a new land.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen