From Today’s Gosepl:
‘And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”’
As we tread our Lenten path alongside Fernand, can you sense the spirit of welcome reaching out in his words?
Fernand worked as the head of a transport union in his home city, supporting taxi and lorry drivers and defending their rights.
“We helped them organise and helped them when they protested against the government because they were badly treated. That was what I was dealing with day after day, every time I left the house. It was passionate but difficult work; I was always in touch with the authorities.”
Fernand’s position was important: “I’m a VIP”, he quips. “Call me Mr President.”
Fernand’s life was turned upside down when his involvement in a drivers’ strike angered the government.
“I was living happily back home. Then, when I was the president of the transporters’ union we went on strike, so the government had their eyes on me. From then on I had a lot of problems. I was even arrested and imprisoned for three months, and I fell sick in prison. I was seriously ill.”
An Invitation to Prayer
We invite you to take some time with Fernand’s journey and today’s readings, and join with Megan, Communications and Development Manager at JRS, in prayer and reflection.
Matthew’s account of the separation of the Sheep and Goats is one of Jesus’ most famous parables, and a parable which holds deep significance for those of us committed to social justice as an expression of our faith. This parable continually evolves in meaning for me and often strikes me in new ways.
The penultimate phrase of the parable, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me,” stands out to me. As I reflect on what I have learnt from refugees, I have come to realise that neglect comes in many forms: in ignoring people, walking past them, isolating them, preventing people from being able to participate and flourish – these are all ways in which we neglect to give people what they need to live in its fullest sense, and in doing so we actively neglect Christ.
I have the privilege to walk alongside our refugee friends on a daily basis – people like Fernand. We laugh together, eat together, and sometimes cry together. Neglect rarely leaves physical marks on those we accompany, but deeper scars are ever present, nonetheless.
Today, and throughout Lent, I pray that we can renew our call to be Christians. ‘To love others, as we love ourselves’, as we are reminded in today’s first reading; regardless of what label society has branded a person with. I pray that we may be the virtuous ones: to meet Christ in each and every person and to welcome them as we would Christ.
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