Sunday, 6 September 2015

A child refugee

Before he had turned two years old, this child had fled his hometown to escape a brutal massacre. He had lived in an area of the Middle East that had seen much political turmoil. The current leader of the region was cruel and oppressive; he would do anything to keep his uneasy grasp on political power. This would include committing atrocities that saw many children murdered. So the parents of this baby boy made the difficult journey south to Egypt. They would have taken very little with them and they did not know when they could return.

I am not writing about Aylan Kurdi, the three year old who tragically drowned in the Mediterranean. Although Aylan's death is awful and has struck the hearts of many people, he is not the refugee I wish to discuss here.

This was Jesus. Matthew 2:13 says, "When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 

So, the young Jesus and his family were refugees. They too had to flee to a foreign and unknown land to seek political asylum. From the outset, Jesus' life was marred by oppression, fear and upheaval. He knew what it was to leave his home, he knew what it was to make a hard and difficult journey, he knew what it was wait until he could return.

So, when you see images of refugees crossing turbulent seas in unsafe boats or those pressed against barbed wire waiting to pass the next border or those packed on trains in closed down stations, think of Joseph and Mary and a young Jesus. And when you extend your mercy and love towards these refugees, you extend love and mercy towards Jesus too.

Read Matthew 25:31-46, and think about which of the groups in this story you wish to belong to.
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 clothe 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.’

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