As our communities open up and we emerge from our social isolation, we begin to gather again, some with caution and timidity, others with enthusiasm and excitement. But all emerge with lessons learnt from our isolation;the best lessons are the creative ways we have been able to care for others and show a love and compassion that distance could not defeat. And as we share our stories and experiences, we bring to life the sentiments that Jesus spoke of in this Sunday’s Gospel:
“Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the house-tops.” (Matthew 10.26)
But as we emerge, gather and share our stories, our vision needs to go beyond our own limited horizons to a world beyond, and World Refugee Day focuses out attention on those around the world who – because of hatred, war, violence and prejudice – have no homeland.
It is no surprise that these same people – with no ability to practice while in camps and transit accommodation the same social distancing and hygiene practices we took for granted in Australia – are most susceptible to COVID-19.
This Sunday’s reading from Jeremiah recognises the despair that comes when family, community and country betray you, and you, like millions around the world, are forced to seek refuge in other lands:
“I hear so many disparaging me, Terror from every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” All those who used to be my friends watched for my downfall.” (Jeremiah 20.10)
But more so they remind us that God is on the side of the poor and the needy. And we, who seek to follow the teachings of Jesus and his boundless love and compassion for those with the least, are challenged by the readings this Sunday and World Refugee Day to respond with generosity, compassion and hospitality.