Friday, 13 September 2013
Reflection: Asylum Seekers
Jesus himself comes to us in the form of the person in need. In our time in history, asylum seekers, displaced persons who have to flee their homes, and leave behind everything to try to find a safe place to live, are surely an excellent example of the person in need.
Our outgoing government had recently begun to inflict harsh punishment on asylum seekers who came here by boat, in an attempt to discourage the dangerous ocean crossing, but had at the same time planned to increase our humanitarian migrant intake. Our incoming government has not indicated any better welcome for people who have come by boat, and has promised to reduce our humanitarian intake.
At the same time, the devastating civil war in Syria is dramatically increasing the number of desperate, displaced people in the world, who need somewhere safe to live. A huge numbers of these people have fled their homes in fear of their lives. A proportion of those have sold everything they own and borrowed all that they can to pay people smugglers to get them to a safe place, and are willing to risk their lives to do so.
When we live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, with one of the best economies, it is clear that these people who have lost everything really are “the least of these”.
As a nation, we are not showing love and compassion. But we still have some choices. We are free to tell, and continue to tell, our politicians that this response is just not good enough. As a community of faith, and as individuals of faith, we can look for ways we can respond. Most importantly, we can ensure we are not hardened against seeing the face of Christ whenever we see an asylum seeker in need.
Grace and peace,