“Old men and old women, each with staff in hand because of old age, shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem. The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.” (Zec. 8:4-5)
Many years ago on a trip to Honduras I had the privilege of visiting the Mesa Grande refugee camp where more than 30,000 Salvadorans were encamped. Despite being in a virtual prison the people were filled with joy as they built a community of faith and solidarity which sustained them as the waited to go "home."
One refugee story, told to me by priest friend who was ministering there, remains in my heart. Even though they were in grave danger, one community that he accompanied back to Salvador had taken the time to bury their church bell before fleeing, promising to ring it again when they returned from exile. Imagine their joy, he said, as they watched men from their village exit the buses, dig up the bell, hoist it to the tower and ring it in order to call everyone to a homecoming Eucharist.
Today’s text from Zechariah reminds me of the stories I heard in Honduras. The elders of the Hebrew community who have been in exile for more than seventy years are finally home to sleep in their own beds and can ”sit in the streets” of Jerusalem, the promised land, the gift of God, the city of peace. Imagine the effort and creativity it took for the elders to keep alive the stories, rituals and life they knew in Jerusalem. Like the refugees of Honduras, they wrote songs of lament in the hope that their children might never forget God’s love for them as they sang the songs their ancestors has written.
Today, pray in solidarity with the 40 million refugees in the world, more than 10 million of whom are hungry, sick and exposed to the elements.
What does "home" mean to you? How do you pass on your values to your children?