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Jesus identifies with refugees at Christmas and International migrants’ day

By Rev. Fr. John Damian of the Holy Spirit
16 December 2018   |   4:11 am
Refugees are not criminals. They did not commit any crime. Most of them never applied to become refugees. It is the most unpredicted and unfavourable situation anyone can face.

Bishop Matin Uzoukwu and Fr John Damian at the Int’l Youth Rehabilitation Centre

Have you ever imagined yourself leaving your homeland with sparse luggage on your head to an unknown destination? Have you ever travelled without any direction, due to war or other unfavourable situations? Can you imagine yourself sleeping in a refugee camp, where there are no adequate food and water supply? Worst still, have you ever imagined yourself being rejected as a refugee, with nobody to accommodate you? Do you even know that without the grace of God, we all are potential refugees?

Refugees are not criminals. They did not commit any crime. Most of them never applied to become refugees. It is the most unpredicted and unfavourable situation anyone can face. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. As long as the problem of insecurity is concerned, we all are potential refugees. Nigeria has not been declared a warring nation, yet the number of internally displaced persons in this country is enormous. So many Nigerians are living in IDP camps due to Boko Haram, herdsmen and farmers’ clashes and other forms of insurgencies.

Considering the plight of refugees and migrants, December 18th has been set aside as International Migrants Day. The plight and welfare of migrants are among the major challenges facing the world today. Most nations, including America, are beginning to close their borders due to overflow of migrants. International migrants Day is celebrated annually a week before Christmas. And Christmas, as we know, is the celebration marking the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came to abolish every form of barriers.

Our Lord Jesus Christ shared in the plight of the migrants. St. John declares, “No one has ascended into heaven, but He Who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (John 3:13). Jesus Christ is the first citizen of heaven. From heaven, He migrated into the world. As soon as He was born into the world, He was taken to Egypt as a refugee. When King Herod wanted to kill Him, “Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord has spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt have I called my Son.’ (Matthew 2:13-15). With this journey to Egypt at the early stage of His life, our Lord Jesus Christ identifies with refugees and other migrants.

Jesus knew what it means to be a refugee. He understands their challenges and that is why He encouraged His followers to always welcome strangers. In the gospel of Matthew 25:35 He even presents the care for strangers (refugees) as one of the ticket to heaven. “…I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Each time we receive a stranger or a refugee, we are receiving Jesus.

We can favour Jesus by favouring the migrants. The best way to enjoy Christmas is by visiting any refugee camp of your choice. As you share food with hungry refugees, God will richly bless you and it shall be well with you in Jesus name – Amen!

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