Jesus comes across the border

18 Mar 2022   Ks. Marek Machała

For many days, hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in safe places. A very large part of refugees from Ukraine, looking for safety, pass through the border crossing in Medyka or travel by trains to the railway station in Przemyśl. This gives us the opportunity to adore Christ present in the poor and in those who suffer. As he said,

“‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothed you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

“Pure Gospel”

– as Cardinal Krajewski used to say. We can see just such pure Gospel today. It is happening! It is happening near us! It is Jesus who comes to us in these people. He is the one who is frightened in them by the sounds of bomb blasts and rockets, by gun and artillery shots. It is he who shivers in the cold on the border. It is his legs that hurt after standing more than 24 hours in trains or lines to pedestrian border crossings.

“Where should I sit?”

– such a question is asked by an elderly woman. She is clearly agitated. “I haven’t even been able to sit down for over 24 hours, I had to stand all the time, I can’t cope anymore! I have no strength left! Where can I rest?!” And there is not a single free camp bed around! Not even a piece of mattress one could sit on! There is only the cold floor of the former Tesco supermarket in Przemyśl… What can I tell her? How can I help her?

“Це війна” – “There’s a war”

– “People! There’s a war! We are doing our best to help you! We’re feeling hopeless too! I really don’t know where you can rest!”

I am describing this authentic scene from several days back (or rather nights) to show what kind of reality we volunteers face; we who try to alleviate Jesus’ suffering in our neighbors at least a little. With time, many things become more orderly, looking better. However, we do not know what the next day will bring, or even what the next hour will bring. I want to share with you the emotions and atmosphere in the places where we welcome refugees. But most of all, I want to show you that the needs are still huge. As the days of the humanitarian crisis related to the outbreak of the war in Ukraine go by, we can see how the situation changes and enters new phases. One thing remains unchanged: suffering people. Lost, distrustful, scared. It cannot really be expressed; it must be experienced. And it is worth experiencing! Meeting them is a great opportunity and a great gift for us. A gift for the whole Church and for every one of us! We can meet Christ who crosses the borders. He is so close and he gives us the chance to overcome the many crises in which we find ourselves as a community.

“I will do anything to return”

Let me now give the floor to Damian, the driver who brought a charity transport from the border between France and Spain. More than 30 hours of travel. One night spent in Germany in the car. The next one in the building of our Przemyśl Seminary. He was very impressed with the reception he received at our house, and even more with the meeting with the refugees at the reception point in Lwowska Street, where he delivered his cargo. On the way back, he took a photo and wrote this message:

„Je vais tout faire pour revenir, je ne peux vous le promettre. Mais on va voir. Nous pensons ne pas encore avoir fait assez. La guerre était dans les yeux de ces gens, et il y en a beaucoup d’autres qui vont encore venir. Nous ferons tout pour vous aider car le vaillant peuple polonais le mérite par son engagement. Avec beaucoup de coeur, on vous transmets nos amitiés et vous remercions de l’acceuil que Dieu a bien voulu nous donner”.

“I will do everything I can to return, but I cannot promise that. We’ll see. We think we haven’t done enough yet. We saw war in the eyes of these people, and there are many more to come soon. We will do all we can to help you, because the valiant Polish people deserve it for their commitment. We send you our best regards with all our hearts and thank you for the welcome that God has given us.”

We are constantly working to adapt our forms of assistance to the emerging needs. We are looking for safe opportunities for the refugees to open their prospects for the future. We need funds for means of transport and for fuel. If someone can offer an apartment, a job, or maybe a car, van or bus, etc., please contact us:

Fr. Marek Machała +48 602 385 838
Ms. Aneta Hudycz +48 502 326 356

All donations can be made to the account of the Department of Family Pastoral Care (Polish name: Wydział Duszpasterstwa Rodzin Archidiecezji Przemyskiej).

Wydział Duszpasterstwa Rodzin Archidiecezji Przemyskiej, ul. Ks. Piotra Skargi 6, 37-700 Przemyśl, Poland.