Christmas and People Seeking Protection from Persecution Go Together

by Andy Hamilton SJ 

Christmas and people seeking protection from persecution go together.  In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus, with a price on his head, went to Egypt with his parents as a refugee.  He found shelter there – there were no detention centres and children were not detained. If he had come to Australia today he may have spent years on Nauru.

At a deeper level, the story of Christmas marks the coming of the Son of God into our world in order to share the experience of the most disadvantaged of people.  Jesus was born in a stable because his family was homeless in Bethlehem at the time. The people who attended his birth were shepherds, the most despised people in society. He went to Egypt as a refugee. As he grew he spent much time with widows, scoundrels, the sick and the lame. He deliberately chose his path. He wanted to show that God loves all human beings, and seeks the company of people who are doing it hard.  Some he healed; all he encouraged.

Jesus has entrusted to us, his followers, the responsibility of caring for the people he loved. That is why meeting, caring and advocating for people who seek protection are natural things for us to be involved in. As Christmas draws near and we remember the first Christmas, we should keep in our hearts and prayers the people for whom Jesus had a special care. We could also urge that children who seek protection should never be detained, and help to support families with children living in the community.