He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” — Mark 9.35
I’m writing today with a real sense of anger, frustration, and disappointment. The United States Government has announced the cap for the number of refugees who will be resettled in the country next year. That number is 30,000. The number for this year was 45,000. More distressingly, less than half of the 45,000 refugees that the government says may be resettled have been resettled. Most distressingly, the world is in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War Two. Between global climate change, war, and the natural disasters that usually befall the world, more people are fleeing for their lives everyday. And the world’s response, and our American response, has been to turn away from them, to no only ignore their position, but to close our borders. It makes me heartsick.
In times of crisis, we as Christians are expected to open our hands, our hearts, and our country to those in need. In fact, Deuteronomy calls us to “Give freely and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.” Deut 15.10.
If we want to be a great nation, the nation “whose God is the Lord, (Ps 33.12a)” we must listen to the word Jesus is speaking to us in this week’s Gospel. We cannot turn our back on the stranger, the orphaned, and the widowed. We cannot turn our back on the on those who seek refuge in our land, for God is our refuge. At the risk of going from preaching to meddling, get involved with one of the great agencies of the Church. Get involved with a resettlement or advocacy agency. Become a servant of all.
When we talk about crises on this scale we can lose sight of the fact that each of these people is a person with as much dignity and right to live free and safe as we do. Each person who is resettled is as precious to God as each one of us, and by Jesus’ example of laying down his life for the freedom of the world, we too are called to give our lives for the freedom of each other.