Pope Francis greets refugees at Jesuit Refugee Service Italy’s Centro Astalli soup kitchen, where 400 refugees are fed daily. (Alessia Giuliani/Jesuit Refugee Service)
All: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. (Luke 23:26)
Beginning in 1983, Sudan endured a 22-year civil war that displaced nearly four million people. As men, women, and children fled their homes to escape from the violence, they were forced to rely on the kindness of strangers to survive their journeys of exile. Cesaria, a 41-year-old refugee, reflected:
"There have been lots of problems in my life, but I find God in my prayer and God gives me relief. I know God is with me. Let me give you an example. When we escaped from the war in Kajo Keji, [South Sudan] we left with no food. Starving—we were starving.
"One night, we met a woman in the bush, a local in the area through which we were fleeing, and this woman gave us a goat so that we would not starve. Can you believe it? A goat! For me, it was a sign of God’s care, and I never let my children forget it. They all remember when God sent an angel so that we would be properly fed. It kept us going until we arrived in Uganda."
Lord, may you remind us that you have called us to carry your cross and ease the burdens of your people just as you called Simon.
All: Our Father.