Hospitality as Remedy

Friday, May 10th, 2013

JRS Staf is meeting a Refugee at Detention Center

Conflicts and armed violence in many parts of the world have caused millions of deaths and people seeking refuge. Quite often innocent children and ordinary people have to bear incomprehensible sufferings or even get killed. Many parents feel their hearts completely broken watching their children snatched away by the atrocities of wars. A lot of children are forced to experience loneliness and alienation because they have just lost their fathers or mothers who have embraced them with tender care and love. These unnecessary miseries and deaths unarguably leave deep wounds. The refugees have been compelled to abandon their villages along with their anguish and wounded hearts. Their only hope is just to discover a new peaceful life and brighter future.

The refugees are keen to see their life experiences be listened to with full attention. Telling us about their life, these displaced people want to pass on some humanitarian messages that shall motivate us to take actions for the creation of peace and justice in a simple but concrete way. These messages would reach their targets if we are prepared to kindly receive the refugees.  Adolfo Nicolás SJ defines hospitality as a ray of humanitarian value that recognizes one’s rights, not because he or she is part of our family, community, race or faith, but solely because he or she is the same human creature as us who deserve proper reception and honour.[1]

Hospitality is like welcoming a stranger in our house we have just built for someone we love.² With our cordiality, the refugees who are guests in our country are welcomed as lovable guests and friends. The warm welcome encourages and revives their spirit of life which was once dimmed. It is here, they, who have constantly suffered in their venture for a safe life, at last discover an environment which may re-ignite their spirit to stand up again as persons with dignity. Kindness rekindles mutual trust and respect which lead the “host” and the “welcomed guest” to knowing each other better. It is in this environment that the JRS is experiencing some blessed periods to receive the refugees and learning that all the refugees are in need to recover their dignity.

Hospitality toward strangers like the refugees is the actual form of detachment from all inordinate attachments, which have barred a person from meeting another person with all his or her personal uniqueness. Among the inordinate attachments are distrustful and insecure feelings as well as tendencies to stereotype against other people and to regard strangers as menacing “enemies”. Hospitality makes way for self-emptying to enable the growth of peace.

To many cultures and religions, hospitality is one of their basic values. In Islam Surah An Nisaa’ orders the Muslim followers to show kindness to their relatives, orphans, strangers and travellers (ibnu sabil) [4:36]. One of the Christian traditions states “.. and hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.” [St Paul’s Letters to the Hebrew 13:2] Even God in the tradition of Christianity identifies Himself as a stranger who is inviting our hospitality: “ .. I was a stranger and you invited me in” [Matthew 25:35]. Taittiriya Upanishad in Hinduism declares that hospitality is like welcoming a guest as a Divine creature. In the Jewish teachings, hospitality (hakhnasat orchim) toward a guest or a stranger is an obligation. [2] In addition, there is a principle encouraging the followers of Judaism to accept any strangers whom they have previously treated as their enemies as their new comrades (Eizehu Gibur M’ha’giburim).[3]

The world which suffers due to wars, conflicts, suspicious feelings and stereotyping judgements – all resulting in the plight of refugees – requires hospitality as a remedy. We do hope that JRS’s direct, concrete and modest advocacy, service and support for the refugees be able to serve as a token of hospitality that heals the wounds. The ray of hospitality may hopefully melt the social freeze among the refugee-rejecting community and make a number of breakthroughs in some important chambers where political policies toward the refugees are made.

Indro Suprobo


[1] Letter from Father General Adolfo Nicolás SJ to the JRS dated 14 November 2010 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of JRS .

[2] Ibid.

[3] Arik Ascherman,”Does Judaism Teach Universal Human Rights?”, in Kelly James Clark, Abraham’s Children, Liberty and Tolerance in an Age of Religious Conflict, Yale University Press, 2012, pages 46-47.

(Indonesia) Pastor Thomas Aquinas Maswan Susinto, SJ: Pengungsi Ingin Hidup Damai

(Indonesia) Paus Fransiskus berulang kali mengunjungi para pengungsi, menyapa mereka dan mendorong kepedulian terhadap mereka. Ia bahkan pernah memboyong tiga keluarga pengungsi Suriah ke Vatikan. Bagaimana pandangan dan ajaran Gereja terkait pengungsi? Continue reading

Refugees: An opportunity to grow together

If we, as a human family, insist on only ever seeing refugees as a burden, we deprive ourselves of the opportunities for solidarity that are also always opportunities for mutual learning, mutual enrichment, and mutual growth. Continue reading

Australia: shutting the door in the face of a global humanitarian crisis

Yogyakarta, 20 November 2014 – The Jesuit Refugee Service observes with deep sadness yet another sudden retroactive change in the policy of Australia towards people seeking international protection in Southeast Asia. Yesterday, the government of Australia announced its decision to … Continue reading

Kelud Emergency Response

Together with the Community of United Volunteers Yogjakarta, JRS Indonesia took part in the emergency response in Kelud. The Community of United Volunteers Yogjakarta, comprised of a diverse group of individuals and students from Yogyakarta, work together in humanitarian disaster response, being present and providing support in the form of accompaniment, counseling activities or delivering urgently needed goods. JRS Indonesia provided funds to support the operational and expenditure of urgently need goods, also presence in the field for two days, on February 26-27, 2014. Continue reading

33 Years on, the Needs of Displaced are bigger than Ever

Celebrating 33 years of being with and serving refugees, JRS would like to encourage you to extend your hospitality and support to our brothers and sisters that are here to seek protection. Continue reading

Vatican: Pope Francis appeals for hospitality and justice during visit to Jesuit Refugee Service

“It’s not enough to give a sandwich if it isn’t accompanied by the possibility of learning to stand on one’s own two feet. Charity that does not change the situation of the poor isn’t enough. True mercy, which God gives and teaches us, calls for justice, for a way in which the poor can find a way out of poverty.” Continue reading

JRS joins multi-faith call for refugee protection

The Jesuit Refugee Service joined together with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and representatives of a number of faith-based organisations to call for greater protection for refugees.

The multilingual, 16-page declaration, known as an Affirmation of Welcome, is the first to involve UNHCR and a spectrum of faith-based organisations. Continue reading

JRS Indonesia Accompaniment to Refugees and Asylum Seekers 2013

In May 2013 JRS supported the SUAKA Diplomat briefing on the situation of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Indonesia. SUAKA and JRS participated in a Focus Group Discussion at the National Human Rights Commission discussing and promoting Indonesia’s ratification of the convention on the status of Refugees and its protocol. SUAKA continues to provide legal advice and accompaniment to Asylum Seekers during the RSD process mostly referrals from JRS. Currently a more comprehensive referral system is developed in a collaboration of JRS and SUAKA. Continue reading

Futsal

It was Sunday evening of 9 September 2012. Twelve African men were walking toward a rather big shop in Cipayung. They were some asylum seekers from Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. Their destination, a place on the third floor of that … Continue reading

31st Anniversary of JRS

Yogyakarta, 14 November 2011 – 31 years is not short measured on a lifetime. After a 31 year journey JRS is proud of the heritage of spiritual insights from Pedro Arrupe who arouse the concern of people for the refugees. This year, JRS Indonesia celebrated its 31st anniversary in many simple ways. Continue reading