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JRS Online Retreat: Day 19 – An Advocacy of Compassion
Friday, November 19, 2010

“We may have to make these petitions in faith since it could well be that we experience no feeling at all.”

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 the Father to help you to accompany Jesus in his suffering so that we may learn to grow in the ability to suffer with those in need.  

Reflections for Prayer

Amaya Valcarcel
JRS International Advocacy Officer

Rome, 19 November 2010 – One evening of March 1996, I was praying silently in one of the churches of Kakuma Camp in Kenya, where I was then working. A young Sudanese refugee came in and sat beside me. We spent quite a while there, enjoying the silence together. The only light inside the church came from thin rays of sunlight that broke through the thatched roof.  From that day forward, this young woman, Christine, and I became good friends.

I once asked her: "Imagine that people who work with refugees are listening to you. What would you tell them about your experience?"Her answer to my question continues to inspire me: "The life of a refugee is not easy. What I would say to people who work with refugees is that they should be patient enough to listen with care to what we have to say. Many refugees feel their needs and views are not considered. Women, especially, are full of worries and frustrations. The world should consider women’s rights in all aspects and help them solve their problems."

Christine was asking us to listen to her and to take her life seriously. These two simple points of advice can be the basis for any solid work of advocacy. They apply to all of us in JRS, because all of us are advocates in one way or another.

During the Third Week of our retreat we aim to be with Jesus who suffers so that we may grow in the ability to suffer with those in need. As Christine suggested, we are invited to listen to Jesus as he travels to Jerusalem and to take seriously his suffering for us. In contemplating and praying over Jesus’ Passion, the fundamental grace we are asking for is compassion, which literally means suffering with. This consists in an effort to re-live what Jesus himself went through so that we can grow in compassion for the crucified people of our world.  St. Ignatius knew that the suffering Christ will move our hearts. He also asks us to consider how the divine nature goes into hiding, that is to say, how Christ, as divine, does not destroy his enemies, but allows himself in his sacred human nature to suffer.

Today we journey with Jesus and his apostles to Jerusalem. Let us walk as well with Christine and with all the refugees we accompany in their suffering, asking the Lord to help us grow in compassion. 

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.

Suggested Reading for Prayer

Matthew 26: 6-13

Now when Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil, and poured it on his head while he was reclining at table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant and said, "Why this waste? It could have been sold for much, and the money given to the poor." Since Jesus knew this, he said to them, "Why do you make trouble for the woman? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me. In pouring this perfumed oil upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be spoken of, in memory of her." 

"We may have to make these petitions in faith since it could well be that we experience no feeling at all." ~ Michael Campbell Johnston S.J.