From Today’s Gospel:
‘Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus… who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.’
As we share Juliet’s journey today, we invite you to walk with her and let her longing for change touch you.
This week, we introduce you to Juliet, who has been accompanied by JRS for over seven years.
“My story is a long one, as is the experience of so many refugees who seek asylum in the UK. But I’m more than my immigration status.”
Juliet has been struggling to be recognised as a refugee for over ten years. The struggle doesn’t get easier, but time keeps on moving forwards.
“It feels bad…It’s a long, long battle and sometimes it takes a long time. I’ve been here more than 10 years, I’m a bit ashamed to say exactly how long. It takes its toll to be in the same situation for all this time, and to carry on every day and have this courage, to continue and to have people who say to you, ‘It’s going to be okay’. You grow in patience.
“Supporting one another is very important. My friends are my strength – we support one another; we share a solidarity and trust. My friends, and God. When I was in the dark, I had my faith. I was praying to God. I was just hoping that everything is going to be okay one day, even if I don’t see the light right now, I just have to trust. Friends and God – they are the most important.
“Sometimes I’m just confused. I am coming for protection and you see yourself being in the position where you have to wait for such a long, long, long time. So which protection am I getting? It’s a situation which you think about a lot, because each day is passing and when you see the calendar, you are getting older all the time.
“I want to work. I want to be part of society. But for that you need to find yourself again, I want people to see me. I want people to… It’s like you want to say to people look, look I’m here. We are people who want to do things, who want to contribute, like everyone you know.”
An Invitation to Prayer
We invite you to take some time with Juliet’s journey and today’s readings, and join with Fr Mike, a volunteer at our Day centre, in prayer and reflection.
Today’s gospel is a really scary story if you think about it. The rich man – usually called Dives (Latin for rich) – lived in luxury, and Lazarus, who lay at Dives’ gate, longed for food. I spent a while in India, and saw all this happening – the rich people who built high walls round their beautiful houses, and the poor people who built little mud houses against the walls, often right by the gates. Dives ignored Lazarus. The gates were strong, and he was well looked after.
As in other passages in the gospels, this story of Dives, the rich man, and Lazarus who has almost nothing, presents us with a crucial decision. We may not quite ‘dine magnificently every day’, but there are people who long for the scraps that fall from our table.
Among them will be refugees like Juliet, who’s words describe a deeper longing than for food and shelter, rather it’s a longing for light, a longing to be able to fully participate. I am deeply inspired by her seemingly unshakeable faith and trust in our Lord amidst her endless struggle. I pray that we all may learn from Juliet, that her faith and trust inspire us all to heed Jesus’ words.
Michael Smith SJ
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