In search of a merciful Lent

Syrian children

I always view Lent as a time for reflection, to consider how I am in the world, to seek and offer forgiveness where I need to and to continue to grow and change. This Lent, I am going to draw encouragement from Pope Francis, writes Meg Kahler SGS.

- The Good Oil

On a recent drive to work, the news was full of the "refugee crisis" in Europe and the latest step taken by Denmark to limit, as the newsreader proclaimed, those seeking refuge in Denmark. Part of this law includes the ability of immigration officials to confiscate anything valued at more than $2,000, including cash, from refugees to help pay for the cost of supporting them. This law is designed to deter those trying to find refuge in Denmark.

This experience became bewilderment when the Australian High Court made its decision about Australia using other countries to house refugees and asylum seekers. I was glad to see that my bewilderment was shared by others, including journalists and politicians.

Veteran Canbertra Press Gallery member, Paul Bongiorno, tweeted “Let’s drop the bull sh%# not allowing deaths at sea = compassion. Slowly driving refugees to insanity and suicide also = compassion. OMG”. He was joined by Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, who stated that “our laws now allow us to wash our hands of refugee children”.

There’s no doubt that the global community faces a huge task in finding refuge for all those who seek it, but these events strike me as being cruel and unhelpful ways to go about it. There are thankfully, some signs of hope – people have protested, gone on the record to say that the world is doing this badly.

Pope Francis has declared this year the Jubilee Year of Mercy, expanding on his personal motto Miserando atque eligendo (Looking at him with mercy and choosing him), which is taken from a homily by Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest, (Hom 21).

It seems to me that this is another way to speak about the actions of the Good Samaritan who looks at the man who has been attacked with mercy and chooses to help him. It is the challenge to look at situations and people with mercy rather than anger and suspicion, to choose to act mercifully. Denmark and Australia are not “looking” at refugees “with mercy” and “choosing” them.

Photo: CNS

FULL STORY A merciful Lent

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