“Alleluia! Praise the Lord, my soul! He keeps faith forever, gives justice to the oppressed, gives food to the hungry; the Lord sets prisoners free. The Lord gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down. The Lord protects the stranger, he sustains the orphan and the widow” (Psalm 146:6b-9)
Throughout the Bible, we find the people of Israel and the eventual Christians in positions of exile, taking up as refugees in other countries. The Israelites were reminded again and again of their duty to be kind to other refugees because they were also strangers in foreign lands.
In the New Testament (Matthew 25:30-45), Jesus explains through a parable that those who feed, welcome, clothe, care for and visit others are blessed and worthy to receive his inheritance. Those who have not done this are accused of ignoring Jesus when he was in need. When this accusation is questioned, Jesus replies, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” With this in mind, as Christians, we should be doing the same.
As God has created all humans, they are all equally precious to him. Today, we particularly remember the refugee as one of the ‘least of these’ who we are to welcome, clothe, feed and care for. We are not to forget the history of the church and the Jews as refugees in different periods of time. We are not to ignore their suffering and crying out around the world. We are not to sit comfortably in privilege and in turn becoming the oppressor. Instead, we need to establish a new way of relating with refugees, a way of faith, hope and love. While remembering the love of Jesus, who ultimately gave his life for us, we also remember that he himself was a refugee. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, the holy family fled their home, seeking refuge in Egypt, the place where their ancestors had been held captive so long ago. As Christians, we must strive to see the face of Jesus in each human being, remembering that he ultimately created each one.
Today we act, we pray, we share and we remember the suffering lived worldwide.