The Beginning of an Experience
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40
This verse from Matthew’s Gospel on “the Judgment of Nations” has been the theme of my first two months at Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Canada. It has helped me to understand the meaning of being with refugees through accompaniment and encounters, and to discover the source of availability for service through the fruits and graces received from this pastoral care.
First, I am convinced that being with refugees is an experience of self-abandonment. And it is also through this experience that we can learn from others. This has allowed me, in a way, to understand that the apostolate with refugees is an instructive work since I have learned so much from them.
They show me their resistance and, above all, so much hope. This is why they can choose to leave their country of origin while trusting in fate. In short, refugees are resilient people.
In fact, it should be noted that these first two months at JRS were greatly marked by the experience of the exercise called “A Journey in Exile”. This simulation exercise, which aims to raise awareness of the refugee situation, helped me to understand that refugees need to be listened to because they have experienced situations that are often painful and can put their lives at risk.
However, through this same simulation exercise, I also experienced fear and sadness. And this is what makes me strong and available to serve refugees. Because they too have had difficult times. But their determination and courage are always stronger than their fear.
I also discovered that the simulation exercise plays an essential role in the campaign for refugees around the world. Most participants who experienced the exercise were much more interested in the issue of immigrants and refugees afterwards.
They also felt challenged in the struggle to help these people, who are sometimes marginalized, to regain their dignity. It is also the main source of my consolations. Our awareness campaign on the refugee situation is a success. The message has been heard.
The testimonies are sincere and edifying. I hope that this awareness campaign, which targets several regions of Canada, will continue to bear fruit so that all Canadians are aware of the situation of refugees.
Finally, I want to thank God for allowing me to live this experience through JRS in Canada, so that I can help those who are most vulnerable. Jesus also did this through his ministry during his public life. He made himself poor with the poorest. He has shown himself to be a supporter and friend of the most disadvantaged, and especially available where the need arises.
That is why I want to continue to be available to live this experience of love and charity. It is also an experience that has just confirmed once again my commitment to the service of the Church and of society. This is not the end of the experience, but rather one that begins.