Empty Words?

World Refugee Day

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18


Our gospel reading today should be familiar to us.  We read it every Ash Wednesday as we begin another Lenten season of prayer, fasting and works of mercy.

Jesus cautions us to avoid hypocrisy.  He reminds us that it is wrong to be righteous in our words but not equally righteous in our actions.  If we fast, pray or do works of mercy because we want to be the center of attention, then we are walking down the wrong road.

This nation, the United States, proclaims that we are a beacon of freedom.  But the actions of our government, especially toward our brothers and sisters who are refugees, tells the world that we are really a nation corrupted by fear, prejudice and greed. 

This World Refugee Day calls us to remember in a special way the 65 million people in the world have been driven from their homes because of violence, poverty, natural disasters and other causes.  22 million of those people must flee to other countries for relief.  Most of the countries welcoming refugees are poor themselves.

At the same time, our government here in the USA has responded to refugees with indifference and hostility.  They have separated children from their parents.  They have put people in cages.  This is unworthy of us. 

We pray for the conversion of our nation, a nation built with the hands and on the backs of generations of people who came from other lands.   We pray that we may welcome those who come, especially those who are refugees.  We pray that our proclamations of freedom, hope and opportunity are not empty words.—JC