From Today’s Gospel:
‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.’
Today we hear the final part from Juliet’s ongoing journey. Through her words, can you sense the tenderness of the father?
This week, we introduce you to Juliet, who has been accompanied by JRS for over seven years.
“My story is a long one, as is the experience of so many refugees who seek asylum in the UK. But I’m more than my immigration status.”
“It’s like being with a good friend who’s been there for you, when you come to the JRS Day Centre on Thursday, you see people are always smiling, you know, they’re welcoming, so it’s not just about the physical support, it is also about how people are welcoming us, how they make you feel – that’s why I’ve kept coming back for over seven years!
“I’m starting to see a light very, very slowly. I have a different Solicitor now who is working on my case. I’m waiting for the Home Office to prioritise my case.
“It’s like I’ve been experimenting a lot of things when I was lost, but now I can see there is a hope in front of me and I’m hoping that things will be okay and one day I’ll be able to have a job, to have my own home, it’s simple but you don’t know how it feels to be in your own house. You know, where you say, ‘oh this I can put this glass here, it’s my house’. It’s my own freedom. Yeah. That’s the thing. I would like to have my own freedom. That would be the most important. I want to not have to worry about going to the Home Office to report. I want this freedom and I want it now.”
While sharing a hot meal on a Thursday, the JRS team will chat to our friends about whatever they wish to talk about, and this is often about their hopes for the future.
“In my mind, I sometimes think I’ll have my own business someday. Maybe a bakery, maybe something which involves travel, where I can explore the world. But then there is always that question mark…one day… I don’t know where God is going to direct me, but I know it will be somewhere with people, a friendly place, where people are treated with respect and care. You are enjoying the job, it is not because of money you do it, but because you love to do it.”
An Invitation to Prayer
We invite you to take some time with Juliet’s journey and today’s readings, and join with Fr Mike, a volunteer at our Day centre, in prayer and reflection.
When I read this story of the wayward son who demanded half his family’s possessions even before his father died, I am struck and moved by one phrase.
His son had left home with his new-found wealth but squandered it all on a life of debauchery. Once he had no money left, he found he was friendless and was given a menial job with almost no food. So he decided to go back to his family. I love that he was so sure of a welcome there. While he was still far off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. And I love that his father was looking out for him all the time – I see that father sitting at an upstairs window day after day, looking along the path to the farm, sure that his son would come. And what a welcome!
I think about the welcome that we give to refugees when they come to our country. Harshness and rejection. No attempt to understand or assist, not something which could be honestly described as a ‘welcome’ at all.
Thank you Lord, for the joy and the privilege that I’m allowed to be part of the welcome that Juliet receives at JRS.
Michael Smith SJ
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