We want a Christmas without detention

By Andrew Hamilton SJ.

In Australia Christmas is all about children. We encourage them to feel special and to wonder at the world that for a day has become their present.  The first Christmas was also a children’s day, when God loved the world so much as to enter it as a little child. His life depended on people’s love and respect. As we imagine the new-born Jesus in the stable, we are invited to enter God’s love and respect for each human being, however small, and so to respect one another.

The first Christmas had its shadows, too. Herod was Lord of the dark-side. He killed all the small children in his kingdom to remove a potential threat to his power.  As we imagine those children and their parents we are invited to recognise the terrible consequences of disrespect for one another. In the Christmas story Jesus escaped because his parents became refugees. He returned home with them when it was safe.

In Australia today the light and the dark stories of Christmas are reversed. During these weeks heading to Christmas we are invited to look into the tear-filled eyes of wordless children on Nauru. There we may see the terrible consequences of the disrespect shown to people who came to seek our protection. Australia has preferred self-interest to the lives of children. It has made their misery the cost of deterring strangers from disturbing our prosperity.

After Christmas Jesus returned radiantly home from Egypt. As Christmas approaches this year let us make it a festival of light. Let our voices demand that the children on Nauru be brought from the darkness on Nauru to Australia.

Christmas is a time for children, a season of respect. So bring them here by Christmas.