Imagine yourself on the run with a newborn, racing to get away to safety – to a place where your child will not be injured. The scripture records such an incident after the magi’s visit to the Christ child. Joseph is warned in a dream that the child is in danger. Picking up what little they have, he and Mary flee to Egypt. Looking over their shoulders, they hear stories as they travel the villages of soldiers on the move. Fear rides with them. There are rumors of disaster in Bethlehem. Some say all the little boys less than two have been slaughtered. Mary and Joseph race to get away realizing Joseph’s dream was true. Their son is in incredible danger.
Today there are parents in war-torn countries, fearful for the lives of their children. From Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia . . . all seeking safety for their children. Each one searching for a safe place for children to grow. I have never had to live with that fear . . . needing to run to protect my family. I think how very painful life must be. I think of the hard choices of what to take and what must be left. I think of how traumatic it is for the children.
The Biblical record of Mary and Joseph fleeing with Jesus to another land reminds us that God is with the immigrant, the refugee, the one seeking safety. In Central America people are escaping gang violence. Today, families at our border with Mexico carry their own pain. They too fear for their children. Chased by violence, they come seeking help and refuge. They are our neighbors.
What does a Christian do in the midst of such human need? How does a follower of Jesus respond to the distress and pain of these migrants? I’m reminded that so often in the gospels there is this phrase, “Jesus had compassion on them.” When faced with hunger, illness and lost souls, Jesus responded with compassion. Can we do any less? What does it look like for a nation to respond with compassion? What does it look like for you and for me?
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4