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Praying with refugees in Congo: unexpected gifts of Advent
01 December 2013

Participants of the informal education project celebrate together in Mweso, DRC (Pádraic MacOireaghtaigh/JRS)
Knowing Jesus involves discipleship, not just admiration.
Bujumbura, 1 December 2013 – "The hand that receives is the same hand that gives", says one African proverb demonstrating the importance of recognising that there will always be others in need, but by helping them you help yourself. 

In the coming month we will celebrate Christmas. This event celebrates God's gift to humanity: when He shared His own life through the gift of Jesus. In the same way it is an invitation to humanity to respond to this gift with true happiness. I would like to reflect on this gift from God and what it means for us, especially for forcibly displaced persons. 

Born in Uganda, I myself became a refugee after fleeing war and moving to Sudan as a child. Living in a camp I became someone on the receiving end of food aid, housing, medical help and family visits. After receiving aid for years and years I have come to understand the implications; people sometimes become dependent and fail to see how they can give back to their community. On the other hand, one may come to understand that being on the receiving end can also be an opportunity to become a gift for others.

Your Reflections
Jesus appeared to man as Word Incarnate. What does this affirmation mean? 

The Word in the usual sense is understood to be the message Christ brings. For John, it was Christ's Word that was the agent of the creation of everything. It was thus through God's Word that things came into being. 

In Colossians, we read: "all things in heaven and on earth were created in Him and through Him".

Jesus made in man His dwelling, pitched His tent, or His tabernacle, which is reminiscent of the Book of Exodus where God dwelt among His people. He lives with us and is within us.

Those who experienced the first Pentecost were amazed that, in spite of obvious differences, they could share the very elements of salvation. No one was compelled to speak or hear in someone else's language. Yet each could interact with the other without changing himself. 

Knowing Jesus involves discipleship, not just admiration; Christ calls each one of us to action. This response of the community to confess and to be a witness to Jesus Christ has been called and interpreted as an Inculturated Christianity, or Christianity as a world Church.

Isaac Kiyaka SJ, JRS Great Lakes Africa Regional Director