Praying with Refugees in Syria: persecuted, but not abandoned
01 October 2013

The distribution team in Al Moukhales centre, Homs, prepares food baskets for distribution to families in Homs and the surrounding areas who are in need of assistance. Food shortages and increased prices in Syria mean that more and more families are in need of food assistance in order to survive (Jesuit Refugee Service)
Knowing we share our suffering with all Syrians, we must help each other get through this period. Mutual solidarity will help us to find hope in new horizons.
Homs, 1 October 2013 – Sunday is normally characterised by an atmosphere of love, openness and reciprocity. But now everyday makes our communities more united as these difficult circumstances pull us together and make us stronger, more resilient, just like that symbol of Sunday.

Increasingly each of us needs the help of the other, especially as we face ongoing food shortages. It has been more than 15 months since food has been brought into the old city of Homs. We have survived these last 15 months with the food we had stored in our cellars and abandoned homes. We still have stocks of cracked wheat, but they are being used up bit-by-bit. We thank God for the gifts of flour, a kilogramme per week, we have received, yet we know we cannot count on this for much longer.

It is impossible to leave our neighbourhood as we are under siege from all sides. This is to say that our opportunities to go out are constrained by a perimeter not exceeding one kilometre. Meanwhile, the health of our community is deteriorating as many are suffering from malnutrition.

Yet nobody knows how long this siege will last. Apprehension grows with the inevitable onset of winter. We know we will suffer from the cold, exacerbated by shortages of water, gas, heating oil, food, and firewood. Our homes are no longer able to protect us from the cold as all the doors and windows are broken.

We do not generally allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by sadness and despair. Yet we feel these sentiments are always waiting at our door.

Despite these difficulties, we keep grasping onto hope. Knowing we share our suffering with all Syrians, we must help each other get through this period. Mutual solidarity will help us to find hope in new horizons.

Frans van der Lugt SJ, Homs, Syria

Reflections for prayer
The words in Second Epistle to the Corinthian speaks to the situation not only of Fr Frans and the civilian population trapped in the Old City of Homs, but also of all those trapped within and affected by the Syrian crisis.

The tragedies and hardships of war are endured by people of every creed and station in life on a daily basis. May we be mindful of their suffering and also of their resilience and humility as we reflect and pray with and for them.




Scripture for reading
2 Corinthians 4: 7-11

But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.