"The situations of injustice and poverty in the world of today are countless and dramatic and it is necessary to try and understand and combat in the heart of man the deeper causes of the evil that separate him from God, without forgetting to meet the more urgent needs in the spirit of the charity of Christ."
As you begin your prayer today, remember that you are in God’s holy presence. Become aware of how God gazes on you all the time, how tenderly and powerfully God regards you. Ask God for what you want in prayer:
Ask God to help you experience the reality of evil in the world, its sinful structures, and your own part in the world’s brokenness.
by Fr. Peter Balleis, S.J.
International Director, Jesuit Refugee Service
Rome, 2 November 2010 – How beautiful this world of ours seems when viewed from the perspective of outer space! Its abundant land, water and air, minerals and energy, forests and farms seem capable of sustaining all earth’s people. It reminds us of how in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis God gazed lovingly on what he had created and saw that it was very good. As we look at our planet, we see a world of great diversity in terms of colors, plant life, living beings, as well as men and women of different languages and cultures. From the borders of space, however, we do not see the limitations and divisions of our world.
The closer we move to earth, the more we discover how the human family with its many differences in language, culture, religion, and national or ethnic identity has marred this wondrous gift of diversity through a competition and distrust that has created borders, walls and conflicts. Differences have hardened into deep divisions fostered by hatred and violence. Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Middle East, claiming to be people of the Book of God’s Word, are often are deeply divided and at odds with one another. In many parts of our world the lust for power, glory, resources and wealth that manipulates many people is the motivating force behind endless wars and ethnic conflicts. Today there are an estimated 15 million forcibly displaced people or refugees who have been driven from their homes or countries by the conflict and persecution. Half of these displaced people have lived in refugee camps for many years in remote and unknown border areas. The other half, unfortunately, has become part of a vast invisible mass of vulnerable people living in the poorest neighborhoods of our world’s cities. Nearly 25 million additional people live displaced within their own countries, terrorized and driven from their homes by national armed forces, paramilitary or guerilla groups. Others fleeing persecution in search of security are denied political asylum and protection by the high walls and barriers of Europe and the U.S. Easy preys to human traffickers, these desperate and exploited people are often drawn into vicious forms of modern-day slavery.
The sins of mistrust and division—fed by lies, deception, and the desire to gain more power and control—all lead to the violence and displacement that are well known to the teams of men and women working in the Jesuit Refugee Service. Despite the deep down goodness of our world, the author of the Book of Genesis also recounts the divisive sin of the first human couple and concludes with their displacement from paradise. We are reminded that sin is a reality in the world. We experience this brokenness not only in our own personal lives, but also in our work with the refugees and forcibly displaced peoples of our world.
Let us ask the Lord in this first week of our retreat to open our eyes and hearts to the reality of our world’s beauty as well as its brokenness and sinfulness that each of us shares in.
Address God as a friend speaks to a friend.
Talk to God about your response, your own needs and your deepest desires.
End your prayer with the Our Father, the prayer Jesus taught us.
Genesis 1:31: God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.
Genesis 3:23-24: The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden.
"The situations of injustice and poverty in the world of today are countless and dramatic and it is necessary to try and understand and combat in the heart of man the deeper causes of the evil that separate him from God, without forgetting to meet the more urgent needs in the spirit of the charity of Christ." Pope Benedict XVI, from his address to the delegates of the Jesuit General Congregation 35, February 21, 2008.