The Sacred Time of Lent and Ramadan: An Opportunity to Build Bridges Among Religions

25 March 2024|Roberta Nikšić

In March 2024, the convergence of Lent and Ramadan presents a profound opportunity for reflection on our shared humanity and spiritual interconnectedness. Pope Francis, in his message for Lent 2024, calls upon believers to pause for prayer and extend a helping hand to those in need, echoing the essence of compassion and solidarity inherent in both Christian and Islamic traditions.
As Christians embark on their Lenten journey, reflecting on the Exodus of the Hebrew people and the desert as a season of grace, Muslims around the globe begin their month-long observance of Ramadan. A time of fasting, prayer, and deep spiritual reflection, Ramadan invites believers to draw closer to Allah and cultivate empathy for the less fortunate.
Pope Francis emphasizes: “Lent is a time for action, but also a time for pause – a time for prayer and a time to stand ‘in the presence of a wounded brother or sister.’ It is in this encounter with others, in their needs and pain, that we discover true love and compassion.”
Similarly, Ramadan encourages Muslims to embody the principles of self-discipline, charity, and compassion. During this sacred month, Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset, fostering a heightened awareness of the plight of the hungry and marginalized.
In the spirit of fostering interfaith understanding and collaboration, we at JRS BIH are dedicated to serving refugees, irrespective of their religious affiliation. Recognizing the significance of both Lent and Ramadan, JRS organizes iftars (breaking of fast meals) in camps in Bihac and Sarajevo, as well as in other locations, ensuring that beneficiaries are not isolated within the camp environments.
Moreover, iftars are arranged at the Reception Center for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers and vulnerable children, fostering a sense of community and solidarity among diverse religious groups. In places like the Day Center in Bihac, interfaith gatherings bring together Muslims and Christians to prepare and share meals, nurturing a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation.
As we journey through Lent and Ramadan, we heed the call to compassion, solidarity, and service, recognizing that our shared commitment to the love of God and neighbor transcends religious boundaries. In embracing the values of these sacred seasons, may we build bridges of understanding and forge a path toward a more inclusive and compassionate world.