In 2019 the FCJ General Chapter produced a document outlining our mission focus over the coming six years. We entitled it Widening our Circle of Love, partially inspired by this wonderful quote from Albert Einstein.
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
We recognised the call of our times to move beyond boundaries, and barriers, to be welcoming, open to difference, interconnected. The Chapter didn’t envisage this as just a theoretical opening up of our hearts, but a practical lived reality. The document goes on to talk about specific ways in which we are called to open ourselves, our homes, our institutions… witnessing to the love of God and experiencing God who is Love in the people and situations we meet.
Yesterday in my community we had a message from a local charity asking if we would be able to host a woman who is seeking asylum. The system here in the UK means that at certain points in the process of seeking refuge, individuals are left without the right to earn money, receive benefits or even be accommodated. We were asked on Wednesday evening… by Friday the woman would be without accommodation if no-one can be found to take her in.
Being open to difference, widening our loving action can’t always wait for a convenient moment or for a long discussion. A response is needed. An action is needed. We are called to be ready, to stretch ourselves and our loving so that we can respond when the call comes.
At the end of the day, we are also just ordinary people, it is true that we act as a community and so have the support of a community as we make choices, but still we can be fearful, we can be challenged by the risk it takes to open our home to a stranger, we can wish for personal space or privacy…
Of course we have said yes (I wonder would I be happy to write this blog if we had said no?) and so now tomorrow we will meet this person for the first time when she comes to live with us.
Perhaps you could think about hosting a family or an individual… [if you live in the UK], look up Refugees at Home to find out more.