Jesus Was a Refugee: How We Christians Treat Them Speaks to Our Faith (Or Lack Thereof)
“‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”
— Jesus Christ, Matthew 25:41-45
“Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.'”
— Matthew 2:13-15
“It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help. If I say, ‘I am Christian,’ but do these things, I’m a hypocrite.”
— Pope Francis
“Seek to help our brother and sister refugees in every possible way by providing a welcome…Show them an open mind and a warm heart…It is necessary to guard against the rise of new forms of racism or xenophobic behavior, which attempt to make these brothers and sisters of ours scapegoats for what may be difficult local situations.”
— Pope John Paul II
On the Statue of Liberty, the “Mother of Exiles,” about which we Americans so proudly speak, is a plaque inscribed with the words:
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I’m not really sure there is much else to say about this.
Jesus himself (a brown-skinned, Palestinian Jew mind you) commands us to help the least of these. He himself was a refugee whose fled persecution from King Herod when he was a child.
Two recent Popes (J.P. II who was known as a conservative and Francis who is a liberal) have called out the importance of protecting immigrants and refugees. Even if you are not Catholic (and I’m not) this is a strong message and meaningful message, especially to Christians.
We are a nation of migrants, immigrants, and refugees. (We often think of the Pilgrims, who were precisely that, but they were just one of many groups of refugees.)
Our own monument calls for the most persecuted and wretched to come to our country.
Jesus calls us to help and serve all. No exceptions.
“The least of these,” He says. Not the ones you like, or find palatable, or who are from select countries, or those of a specific political persuasion. And certainly not just to those of your religion, denomination, sect.
Show Christ’s love to all the world–no exceptions.