For the complete Sunday readings click here.
It happened at the Elm Creek swimming pond this past weekend. My wife and I were taking our daughters for a last weekend of summer swim. I was sitting on the edge of the water watching my youngest daughter splash around in the shallow water when suddenly all I could think about was the picture I had seen that day of the lifeless body of the young refugee laying in the sand of a European beach.
The young boy had died during the horrendous trip from Syria towards the safety of Europe. Something happened and he was in the water and his body has washed ashore. I tried to shake the image from my mind and soon had moved on to something else. But for a second, I was overcome thinking about that little boy who died and the family who had lost him in the dangerous trek to safety.
Honestly, I didn’t want to think about the horrors of this overwhelming refugee crisis. I don’t ever want to imagine what war or famine means for real families.
Our second reading this weekend reminds us that thinking about someone in need isn’t enough. Thinking about the refugee crisis or even saying, “Wow, what a shame,” will leave us feeling empty or upset. Why? Because Jesus has called us to more. As baptized Catholics, Jesus has invited to do something more significant than worry or fret or feel. And it is in doing more, in acting on our faith, and actually doing something to help someone that the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is lived and shared. In sacrificing for the sake of someone else, we are blessed.
Pope Francis recently encouraged every Catholic parish and monastery in Europe to welcome in, house, and feed at least one family of refugees. If the European Catholic Church did this, estimates suggest they would help nearly 500,000 people. Wow.
Would we be willing to do this? Would we the people of Holy Name of Jesus welcome in a family of strangers? I hope we would.
Here is what we can do, for sure. We can demonstrate our faith. By that I mean that we live what we believe, that Jesus is calling us to not only believe in the gospel, but to live it out. In this particular case and for those of us in the USA we can pray daily for the refugee crisis and an end to war and famine. We can call on our government to increase the number of refugees we will accept into our country and our communities. And we can donate financially to a group we know will be able to help those in most need.
Just thinking and wishing isn’t enough. It isn’t enough for the people we are thinking about, but it also isn’t enough for us. Just thinking or wishing isn’t generous enough to bring us joy. If we want to turn mourning into dancing, we have to do something. St. Paul would call that demonstrated faith.
Help Catholic Relief Services help a refugee family. Catholic Relief Services serves millions every day, including those fleeing the Middle East. CRS is a highly accredited aid organization with boots on the ground in the worst places in the world. Donate directly to refugee relief here.