A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Opening Our Hearts to Those in Need

Posted on: November 26, 2015

As I’ve mentioned in my last couple of posts, I’ve heard a lot of negative comments about the upcoming arrival of Syrian refugees in Canada. But there are also positive stories to share:

  • people taking a stand on social media to say they won’t tolerate negative rants about the refugee situation instead of calm discussion and unfriending others where necessary to turn off the tap of negativity
  • organizations mobilizing to provide health care, housing and language instruction to newcomers
  • average Canadians looking for ways they can help—everything from knitting scarves and hats to providing translation and interpretation services

Those who argue we shouldn’t help refugees when our nation already has people in need should read  1 John 3:17-18*:

But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.

It’s not enough to say that we already have citizens in need of our help. We need to take a good hard look at ourselves and ask what we’re doing to help—not the municipal, provincial or federal governments, but we as individuals:

  • If we’re concerned that there are homeless Canadians now, are we encouraging our politicians to support subsidized housing or are we opposing these projects in our community?
  • If we’re concerned that there are hungry Canadians now, are we contributing even a few dollars’ worth of groceries to the food bank bin at our local grocery or department store, preparing Christmas food hampers for our church or community food bank, or donating to or serving at a local mission’s holiday (or everyday) dinner?
  • If we’re concerned that there are Canadians in need of winter clothes now, are we donating new or gently used winter gear to clothing drives or making items with our knitting, crocheting, sewing or quilting skills?
  • If we’re concerned that there are Canadians in need of jobs now, are we using our connections to help others find work? Are we mentoring youth or adults in transition from other careers? Are we offering volunteer opportunities to help others gain skills and network?

Instead of just using our words to point out the needs that exist before the refugees arrive, I pray that we would use our time, talents and connections to help meet these needs.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)



Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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