~Who Are Our People?~
The refugees were not welcomed in many places, but there were some places in the world that said, “Come. Find refuge”. It was during the pre-war persecution that many Jewish people found a place of refuge, a home in Ecuador. They could not get in to the United States, where many already had family.
In Matthew’s gospel, Joseph and Mary are refugees. They take their son, Jesus, and flee to Egypt. The life of their child is threatened as King Herod was making plans to seek him out and kill him. The family escapes to Egypt, an ironic location since Egypt was a place of captivity and oppression for their ancestors. In this story, it is a place of liberation and safety.
There are over 4 million people fleeing Syria. The number is incomprehensible to me; I cannot begin to fathom what 4.5 million people look like, how much space they require, and more. There is no way to take a picture of the magnitude of the refugee crisis because all of those people do not fit into a camera frame.
I wonder if it is this limited vision that results in comments like, “We should only accept Christians”. One of the reasons Jewish refugees were not accepted in the United States before World War II and during the early days of that war was because they were, well, Jewish.
King Herod waged a sort of war on his own people. The people of Syria are being attacked by their own people. Who are OUR people? The radical hospitality of Jesus Christ is to welcome even the people no one else wants or needs. The war on Christmas is the lack of welcome and refuge offered to the least in our world and that includes people bombed out of their homes with no safe place in the world to lay their head.
It is wise to be careful about letting people come into any country. It is cruel to turn our backs on suffering people because they are considered to be “not enough like us”?